Saturday, 20 March 2010

Damage to peat bogs driving climate change

Some of the most beautiful areas of England are releasing millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year because of damage to peat bogs, environment watchdogs have warned.

By Louise GrayPublished: 7:00AM GMT 18 Mar 2010
Peatlands in beauty spots like Exmoor and the Peak District store carbon dioxide in ancient deposits of rotted vegetation.
However a report by Natural England found farming practices such as ploughing the earth and burning heather means three quarters of the deep peat area in England is now damaged.

This is causing three million tonnes of carbon dioxide stored in the soil to be released every year, the equivalent to the average emissions of 350,000 households.
Helen Phillips, Chief Executive of Natural England, said preserving peatlands could help the UK meet its target to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.
She is calling for peatlands to be preserved by allowing the land to flood, blocking gullies to retain water in bogs and creating nature reserves.
"England's peatlands are a crucial buffer against climate change but have been extensively damaged by centuries of inappropriate management. We have to stop the rot and ensure that peatlands are properly looked after as one of our most precious environment resources," she said.
It is estimated that globally, peat stores twice as much carton as forest, and the UK contains about 15 per cent of the world's peatlands.