Greenhouse Gas Removal by Accelerated Peat Formation

Lead Research Organisation: UK Ctr for Ecology & Hydrology fr 011219
Department Name: Soils and Land Use (Bangor)


Peatlands store more carbon than any other terrestrial ecosystem, both in the UK and globally. As a result of human disturbance they are rapidly losing this carbon to the atmosphere, contributing significantly to global greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.

We propose to turn this problem into a solution, by re-establishing and augmenting the unique natural capacity of peatlands to remove CO2 from the atmosphere and to store it securely for millennia. We will do this by working with natural processes to recreate, and where possible enhance, the environmental conditions that lead to peat formation, in both lowland and upland Britain. At the same time, we will optimise conditions to avoid emissions of methane and nitrous oxide that could offset the benefits of CO2 removal; develop innovative cropping and management systems to augment rates of CO2 uptake; evaluate whether we can further increase peat carbon accumulation through the formation and addition of biomass and biochar; and develop new economic models to support greenhouse gas removal by peatlands as part of profitable and sustainable farming and land management systems.

Implementation of these new approaches to the 2.3 million hectares of degraded upland and lowland peat in the UK has the potential to remove significant quantities of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, to secure carbon securely and permanently within a productive, biodiverse and self-sustaining ecosystem, and thereby to help the UK to achieve its ambition of having net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.


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