We all know that peatlands are a type of wetlands that occur in almost every country in the world, but what most people are unaware of is that peatland is currently covering 3% of land surface. A great fact about Peatland is that it possesses tremendous value for preserving global biodiversity, providing safe drinking water, minimizing flood risk and helping address climate change. Draining peatlands reduces the quality of drinking water due to pollution from dissolved compounds.
Peatland health is under threat from drainage for agriculture, commercial forestry, peat extraction, infrastructure development and, of course, the effects of global heating. Farmers burn peatland to make room for development and agriculture, the issue with peatland fires is the huge amount of CO2 they release (42 per cent of Indonesia’s total emissions in 2015 were a result of peat fires).
One of the most important environmental issues when it comes to obtaining peat that we should all be concerned about is the runoff, released from harvesting areas. The drainage of these peatlands cause changes in regional hydrology and quality of surface waters. Phosphorus and nitrate both leach from the soil causing eutrophication problems into watercourses and particles of decomposing matter use up vital oxygen. Not only that but peat causes silt to form down river creating problems for surrounding ecosystems. We should also all be concerned about dust emissions from pneumatic harvesting that could have environmental impacts.
Peatlands cover 12% of UK land mass, and store vast amounts of carbon. Undisturbed peatlands can store Co2 from the atmosphere helping to deplete carbon dioxide released from manmade sources such as burning fossil fuels which lead to climate change. Sadly 80% of the United kingdom’s peatlands have been adversely affected by the way they are managed (drainage for agriculture, livestock grazing, managed burning and wildfires. Also, extraction of peat for fuel, gardening and horticulture)
A lot of people do not know that If all of the peatland in the UK were to be disturbed by previously mentioned sources then 584 million tons of carbon would be released into the atmosphere which is equivalent to 2.14 billion tons of Carbon Dioxide, that’s equals roughly 5 years of the UKs annual Co2 emissions which could have a detrimental effect on our environment. (5% of disrupted peatland is equal to the total annual greenhouse emissions of the UK). Not only that but, 30% of global carbon is stored in peat.
Unfortunately, In 2017, emissions from the United Kingdom’s agricultural industry were 46 MtCo2e (metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent). It is estimated 23 MtCo2e of that were gasses released from peatland, which shows that half of agricultural emission released are contributed to the extraction/depletion of peatlands. Something that we as a company hope to help change by cutting out the use of peat.