Peatland is an internationally important ecosystem, and in its natural waterlogged state, acts as a massive carbon store. When peatlands are drained or damaged, they release that stored carbon back into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. In the UK, it is estimated degraded peatland accounts for approximately 10 – 20 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions annually.
Through peatland restoration, these emissions can be reduced and even reversed in the long term, as peat has the ability to sequester twice as much carbon as trees. Restored peatlands also help to regulate water flow and water quality and conserve important wildlife habitats.
The Peatland Code is a voluntary certification standard for UK peatland projects wishing to market the climate benefits of peatland restoration and provides assurances to voluntary carbon market buyers that the climate benefits being sold are real, quantifiable, additional and permanent and is managed by the IUCN Peatland Programme.
The reduction in carbon emissions by peatland restoration is quantified, validated, and verified in a similar way to the Woodland Carbon Code. All peatland restoration projects must be registered before work can take place and have to be independently validated and verified at key points throughout the project life. Once validated, the carbon units can be traded. However, it is only once they have been verified can they be used to off-set carbon emissions. The sale of carbon is a rapidly evolving market and offers significant opportunity from potential sales of carbon units and expert advice is essential.