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Peatland restoration and climate change mitigation · restoration of degraded sites is a strong...

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  • Peatland restoration and climate change mitigation

    Rebekka ArtzThe James Hutton Institute

  • Policy context – why restore peatlands?

    • Natural peatlands (i.e. those unaffected by human disturbance) are net carbon sinks. Degraded peatlands are a large source of carbon emissions.

    • Scotland’s Climate Change Act (2009):• emissions target for 2050 for a reduction of at least 80% from the baseline year 1990.

    • CBD Nagoya 2010 - Aichi Target 15/(EU Biodiversity Target 2):• by 2020, ecosystem resilience and the contribution of biodiversity to carbon stocks have been

    enhanced, through conservation and restoration, including restoration of at least 15 per cent of degraded ecosystems … etc.

    • IPCC 2013 Wetlands Supplement (WS): • the ‘new’ standard for incorporating emissions into national GHG Inventories for UNFCCC and

    Kyoto Protocol submissions.

  • Scottish Government commitments

    • Peatland Action (£10 mi spend in 2017-18)

    • But where to restore?

  • There is a HUGE job to be done!

    • 1.7-2.3 million hectares = 22% of the land

    area of Scotland.

    • Mostly blanket bog (1.1 mi ha), some semi-

    confined peat (valley peats on mountains,

    0.5 mi ha), upland (0.04) and lowland (0.03)

    raised bog . Small area of fen peatlands.

    • Much of this resource is eroding, drained,

    harvested or converted to other land uses

    (90% of raised bog, >50% of blanket bog)

  • What condition are the peatlands in? How to assess restoration success?

    • Monitoring is only carried out on designated sites (small proportion

    of land area) so we need a better way to assess peatland condition

    at national scale

    • One approach is to model condition across the national resource,

    using remote sensing approaches

    • Definition of “successful restoration” – what are the criteria? At

    what scale?

  • Effectiveness of a MODIS-based model

    CSM Site Condition

    MODISTime series


    Modelling100m resolution ~ 7 million cells

  • Peatland condition modelling – first results

    • First (!) national scale model of current peatland condition produced, based on MODIS (paper in revision). Trained against SNH’s Common Standards Monitoring dataset

    blue = favourable, yellow = unfavourable

    • Suggests geographical differences - Future climate envelope for peatlands in good ecological condition?

  • Peatland GHG emissions

    • Committee on Climate Change Scotland

    report (Sept 2018) recommends

    including peatland emissions into the

    UK GHG Inventory

    • The UK GHG Inventory essentially only

    needs know the main condition

    category and the corresponding

    emission factor (EF) as a starting point.

    • Changes through time are then simply

    annual updates of these areas and EFs.

  • More detailed classification system:Sentinel – 2 based classification

    UK Gov (BEIS) funded 2016-17

  • Sentinel-2 based condition modelling – first results

    • Initial approach significantly overestimated heather-dominated bog and extent of restoration sites in N Scotland

    • Pixel based model was better at accurately predicting condition classes with high number of input pixels, poorer at predicting condition classes with limited input data

    • Highlights the need for appropriate ground observations

  • How to include peatlands in the UK GHG Inventory

    • Method available from 2013 IPCC Wetlands Supplement, but countries with significant land cover are expected to use Tier 2 (country-specific) methodology

    • Recent BEIS-funded project produced evidence that emissions from UK peatlands can be more accurately quantified with a Tier 2 (country-specific) approach

  • Implementing GHG emissions accounting

    ▪ Requires changes to the Inventory (likely to happen for next year’s submissions)

    ▪ Requires more work to accurately map the different condition categories (possibly using remote sensing)

    ▪ Requires more work to define peatland restoration areas and a target state in Inventory terms (i.e. when does a site that has been rewetted reap the GHG benefits)

    ▪ But: Prepares the path for appropriate monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) of emissions from UK peatlands and mitigation following restoration (i.e. an instrument to assess effectiveness of Peatland Action programme)

  • Ongoing emissions monitoring essential

    • Emissions figures are not static entities –changes as restoration progresses

    • Community composition critical – drought resilience/photosynthetic potential differs between functional vegetation types

    • Effects of climatic change (increased risk of summer drought)

  • Resilience of restored peatlands

    • Sphagnum contributes a large part of the C fixing potential per annum, but is most affected in drought years

    • Species have different niche requirements (e.g. lawn/hollow Sphagna less resilient to drought)

    • Restoration sites are at higher drought risk as the primary colonising species are mainly lawn formers

    • Potential to assess using Sentinel-2 and assess short term impact on GHG emissions

  • Summary

    • Significant GHG benefits from near natural peatlands, restoration of degraded sites is a strong mitigation option

    • Where the money should be spent is not so easy to answer, work is ongoing on mapping peatland condition

    • GHG benefits also require long-term monitoring of restoration sites to assess resilience to climatic change -getting the hydrology and the vegetation community right is key.

  • Contacts:

    -Digital soil mapping: Matt Aitkenhead, Alessandro Gimona, Allan Lilly

    -Greenhouse gas monitoring: Myroslava Khomik; Mhairi Coyle

    -Remote sensing and modelling: Gillian Donaldson-Selby, Laura Poggio, Alessandro Gimona, Pauline Miller, Matt Aitkenhead,

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Peatland restoration and climate change mitigation Rebekka Artz The James Hutton Institute
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