Trust backs five-point plan to protect England's upland peatlands

John Muir Trust joins partnership of wildlife groups and industry to remind UK government of importance of peatlands.

John Muir Trust has joined a partnership of wildlife groups and industry to remind the UK government that only four per cent of England’s upland peatlands are in good ‘ecological’ condition, and the remainder is not living up to its potential for providing homes for nature and combating climate change.

The Trust joined the RSPB, National Trust, The Wildlife Trusts and others in writing to the Secretaries of State in charge of Defra and the Department for Energy and Climate Change - challenging them to take action on five key areas on 200,000 hectares of England peatland:-

  • work to bring England’s upland peatlands back into the condition that will maintain the vital ecosystem services these habitats provide for society
  • support and play its part in the IUCN’s UK Peatland Programme’s target for one million hectares (200,000 ha in England) of healthy and well-managed upland peatlands by 2020, and the Committee on Climate Change’s call to triple the area of upland peatland being restored
  • develop capital funding for peatland restoration, through a combination of public and private contribution and partnerships, commensurate with the above scale of ambition for upland peatland restoration
  • secure funding to ensure ongoing well-managed upland peatlands through a combination of rural funding and market related funding routes, including the practical development of innovative routes including the Peatland Carbon Code
  • work to swiftly adopt a way of estimating carbon being stored and lost from peatlands in common with other UK countries, include peatland carbon in greenhouse gas inventories and voluntarily include peatlands in the UK’s Kyoto Protocol reporting.

The RSPB’s conservation director Martin Harper said: “Although our upland peatlands are revered by many, ironically for too long they have been neglected, preventing them from reaching their potential as sources of clean water, sinks to help trap carbon or refuges for threatened species. Restoring these peatland sites will help wildlife, soak up carbon and increase their appeal as wonderful places to visit.”

Stuart Brooks, chief executive of the John Muir Trust said: “The conservation, land management and scientific communities have made great progress over recent years in making the case for peatland restoration and conservation. We really need the UK Government to follow the excellent example of the Scottish Government and make a financial commitment to peatlands and ensure policies enhance rather than continue to degrade this world class asset.”

The range of partner organisations includes: Buglife, Campaign for National Parks, CPRE, Dartmoor Mires Project, Exmoor Mires Project, John Muir Trust, National Trust, North Pennines AONB Partnership, RSPB, South West Water, The Wildlife Trusts, and United Utilities.

For more on the need to conserve the uplands of England, read Stuart’s article: 'The Burning Issue' in the Trust’s Autumn 2014 Journal.