As part of the government’s commitments to drive international ambition on action to tackle climate change, working towards nature-based solutions, and demonstrating their ambition to deliver on the net zero pathway, they have announced new investment and actions to improve lowland peat and reduce carbon emissions.
The headline points are:
New action to reduce peat carbon emissions, improve resilience to drought and safeguard productive farming following recommendations from the Chair of the Lowland Agricultural Peat Task Force
Over £7.5 million of new funding for innovative water management projects to help mitigate the impacts of climate change
Winners of £5 million Paludiculture Exploration Fund grant scheme are announced
“Our peatlands are invaluable allies in our battle against climate change, housing over half of our terrestrial carbon stores and providing resilience for future farming.
“These new measures, which includes funding for innovative new water management schemes, bolster our efforts to protect and improve peat soils – enhancing carbon storage, preserving vital ecosystems, and paving the way for a more sustainable future.”
Trudy Harrison, Environment Minister.
The new measures are being introduced to initiate improvements in how water resources are managed to rewet and preserve peat soils and with more than £7.5 million of funding this will help drive advancements in understanding of the lowland peat water challenge helping transform the way we use water in England’s lowland peat, as well as helping to improve resilience to drought and helping to safeguard agricultural production in lowland peat regions.
Robert Caudwell, independent Chair of the Lowland Agricultural Peat Task Force, has put forward fourteen recommendations on which the government has agreed to take action. These include:
New investment in water storage, management and control
Public money for wetter modes of farming on peat soils
Technical advice on keeping peat soils wetter
Creating viable opportunities in private finance
Raising the profile of lowland agricultural peat soils
Adopting the task force’s roadmap to commercially viable paludiculture (farming on rewetted peat)
And the government response: Lowland Agricultural Peat Task Force Chair’s report: government response - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
“All the evidence demonstrates that reducing carbon emissions from lowland peat is vital as part of the United Kingdom government’s plan to tackle climate change.”
Robert Caudwell, independent Chair of the Lowland Agricultural Peat Task Force
The new £7.5 million of new funding for innovative water management projects funding is distributed across two pilots.
The Lowland Agricultural Peat Small Infrastructure Pilot (£5.45m) will support the installation of infrastructure and monitoring technology to enable more control of water levels for the preservation and rewetting of lowland peat. Delivery of this project is being supported by the Association of Drainage Authorities.
The Lowland Agricultural Peat Water Discovery Pilot (£2.2m), to be delivered by the Environment Agency, will allow local and water peatland partnerships to collaborate to develop costed water level management plans for lowland peat areas in England.
Paludiculture Exploration Fund grant scheme
Twelve projects across England are set to receive support through the £5 million Paludiculture Exploration Fund (PEF) grant scheme which has been launched to help fund research that will help overcome the barriers to developing paludiculture as a commercially viable farming practice. More details will follow soon.
“Lowland peatlands play an important role in combating climate change, by keeping carbon in the land and out of the air. Working with land managers and others, it is imperative we find ways to support livelihoods and produce what society needs while at the same time halting the degradation of peat soils.”
Tony Juniper, Chair of Natural England