UNIVERSITY NEWS LAST UPDATED : 09 SEPTEMBER 2013
A new tool setting out guidance and quality standards for sustainable business investment in peatlands is to be launched by Environment Minister Richard Benyon this week.
With implications for chartered surveyors, planners and other rural professions, the UK Peatland Code is being launched on 10 September at the IUCN UK Peatland Programme conference and will provide advice to businesses and clients on future land use and income generating opportunities.
The development of the UK Peatland Code, led by Birmingham City University, will allow corporations the opportunity to sponsor UK-based projects linked to their brands as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility portfolio, with the potential to turn such investments into future assets.
Lewis Jones, Future Quality Obligations and Research and Development Manager at South West Water, said: "As a business that depends on peatlands for drinking water, we believe that restoring and maintaining peatlands in good condition can save the company and our customers money, whilst protecting the climate and wildlife.
"Our Upstream Thinking programme is already improving drinking water quality and seeking to reduce water treatment costs by improving land management on the moors. The Peatland Code offers us an opportunity for this work to be recognised nationally and work with others to realise the benefits of healthy moorlands for the climate and wildlife."
The Code also provides an opportunity for landowners to generate financial rewards from restoration and sustainable land management.
Mark Reed, UK Peatland Code Project Lead and Professor of Interdisciplinary Environmental Research at Birmingham City University, said: "Peatlands are the UK's most significant carbon store. As well as regulating the climate, peatlands provide many other important services to UK society including the provision of drinking water, habitats for internationally important species and recreation.
"With such an important and urgent environmental challenge we need the support of the corporate sector to help pay for this work now and avoid future far greater costs to society from damaged peatlands. The Peatland Code is widely acknowledged as a vital tool in giving business the confidence to support peatland management."
The IUCN UK Peatland Programme has issued a call for one million hectares, just under half of UK peatlands, to be in good condition or under restoration management by 2020.
Clifton Bain, Director of the IUCN UK Peatland Programme, said: "We're sitting on a compost time bomb with over three million tonnes of stored carbon in the peat which will be lost to the atmosphere if we don't return the peatlands to a healthy condition".