COP26: Restoration of peatlands will play critical role in tackling climate change
Restoration of Northern Ireland’s peatlands to a healthy state will play a ‘critical role in reversing carbon and biodiversity loss’.
Environment Minister, Edwin Poots, visited the peatland pavilion at COP26 in Glasgow to find out more about the global significance of peatlands in tackling climate change.
The IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) Peatland Pavilion, which is supported by DAERA, aims to bring together climate negotiators, peatlands experts and enthusiasts from around the world to exchange their knowledge and experiences on peatlands policy, practice, research, and innovation.
A virtual peatland pavilion is also available for people to access, showcasing peatland projects from around the world, including Northern Ireland case studies such as the CABB (Co-operation Across Borders for Biodiversity) and CANN (Collaborative Action for the Natural Network) projects.
These are funded through Interreg VA to restore important lowland raised and blanket bog sites; as well as the National Trust’s restoration work on Divis and Black Mountain.
Globally, peatlands are one of the most valuable ecosystems, holding more than twice as much carbon as the world’s forests and providing a wide range of benefits for biodiversity and society.
Restoration of Northern Ireland’s peatlands will be key to the plans to address the climate and biodiversity crises, with peatland habitats and peat soils covering 18 per cent of Northern Ireland.
Minister Poots was invited to visit the peatland pavilion by John Martin, RSPB Head of Policy and Advocacy in Northern Ireland, who presented the findings of the RSPB ‘Valuing our Peatlands’ report.
Mr Poots said: “I am delighted to visit the peatland pavilion at COP26 and to see the importance of Northern Ireland’s peatlands and some of our exemplar peatland restoration projects showcased on a global stage.
“Working collaboratively with partner organisations, such as RSPB, demonstrates how we can protect and restore these valuable ecosystems.
“Peatland restoration will play a key role in our plans to reduce carbon emissions and lead to a low carbon, high nature future, as envisioned through the draft Green Growth Strategy, which I recently launched on behalf of the NI Executive.”
He continued: “My department has also recently consulted on a draft Northern Ireland Peatland Strategy.
“This strategy, which we hope to publish in the New Year, will provide a framework for peatland conservation and restoration in Northern Ireland over the next two decades, ensuring we deliver a low carbon, high nature future.
“I would encourage everyone to visit the virtual peatland pavilion to find out more about the value of peatlands and the positive work being delivered in Northern Ireland and around the world to restore and protect this valuable ecosystem.”
John Martin, RSPB, added: “Peatlands are our rainforest.
“They provide vital eco-system services such as water filtration, habitat for wildlife and are an important carbon sink when functioning correctly.
“Peatland restoration is a clear example of a nature based solution which can help us in the fight against climate change and research has also shown that peatland restoration is value for money.”