Scientists, land managers and industry officials joined forces in EdinburghÂ this monthÂ as a Commission of Inquiry investigates the steps needed to repair our important peatbogs, such as those inÂ Midlothian,Â and return them to a state where they remove carbon from the atmosphere and store it as peat.
Alarming evidence that peat soils are being washed down massive networks of old drainage ditches, releasing millions of tonnes of carbon and destroying important wildlife habitats, has already been received by the Inquiry, which is organised by the IUCN UK Peatland Programme. Further evidence on how to help tackle this problem and restore our damaged peatlands was taken from expert witnesses atÂ the Open Inquiry event, hosted by the University of Edinburgh.
The Commission of Inquiry on Peatlands is gathering evidence to demonstrate just how important our peatlands are for storing carbon, maintaining clean drinking water supplies, supporting biodiversity and a preserving a rich historical archive.
Dr Mike Billett who is giving evidence from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology said:, â€œOur long term investigations at Auchencorth Moss, a peat bog in Midlothian, demonstrate that these areas remove significant amounts of carbon from the atmosphere. Rewetting previously drained bogs can help meet climate change targets and by investing in science to improve our understanding there could be considerable cost savings.â€
The Open Inquiry also heard that restoring bogs can bring vital jobs to economically vulnerable and remote upland areas.Â Norrie Russell, RSPB Forsinard Reserve Manager, said,Â â€œOur peatland management has tripled the number of jobs helping secure those previously onsite and visitor numbers have been shown to generate five full-time equivalent jobs in the local area.â€
The Open Inquiry eventÂ was held on Wednesday 3rd November at Thomsonâ€™s Land, University of Edinburgh where the specialist panel will take evidence from expert witnesses and members of the public. Details are available on the IUCN UK Peatland Programmeâ€™s website at http://www.iucn-uk-peatlandprogramme.org/news/openinquiry.