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Unearthing Britain’s hidden landscape

UNIVERSITY NEWS LAST UPDATED : 14 MAY 2014

Birmingham City University’s Professor Mark Reed will be challenging spectators to look differently at Britain’s overlooked landscape later this month, at his inaugural lecture on Thursday 29 May.

Using science, poetry, music and award-winning photography, Professor Reed will highlight how the UK is dependent upon a place that many people avoid visiting – peatlands.

Mark Reed, Professor in Interdisciplinary Environmental Research at the University, said: “The thing that surprised me most about studying these places is that I had no idea that our lives literally depend on peat bogs. In the UK, nearly 70% of our drinking water comes from surface waters, most of which come from peaty hills.”

Results from a recent Scottish Natural Heritage survey revealed that the second least likely place people would visit in Scotland was a peat bog, with derelict land coming out on top.

Professor Reed said: “Very often I think we’re so busy looking to the top of the mountain we’re climbing, that we miss the beauty and value of the things around us.”

In September 2013, Environment Minister Richard Benyon launched the UK Peatland Code, developed by Professor Reed to set out guidance and quality standards for sustainable business investment in peatlands.

Professor Reed said: “As far as I know, I was one of the first to realise that carbon markets might be able to pay for restoring peat bogs, because you stop them losing carbon and enable them to start absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere again.

“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.”

Professor Reed’s inaugural lecture takes place at the University’s City Centre Campus on Thursday 29 May at 4pm and will be followed by informal discussions, refreshments and an opportunity to collect a free DVD, CD and children’s picture book in relation to Professor Reed’s research. To register interest in attending, please e-mail ian.mcdonald@bcu.ac.uk.

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