A large part of this project is in-field test and experiment, but the project will undertake detailed review, development and assessment of environmental, social, economic and technical risks, barriers, co-benefits, trade-offs and opportunities.
This means we are working with a large set of project partners and stakeholders to collectively develop pathways to the implementation of effective and sustainable peat GGR at a UK scale. Partners/Stakeholders range from national government and NGOs, to farmers and the private sector.
The project will have impacts, ouputs and benefits relavant to many groups of stakeholders including:
Academic & research beneficiaries
Our GGR Demonstrator has transformative potential for research on peatlands, by challenging the assumption that they invariably function as net source of greenhouse gases (GHGs) under all but pristine conditions. Instead, we propose that the active, science-based management of even heavily degraded peatlands could enable them to be managed as net GHG sinks.
Achieving this potential requires a concerted investment in new research, from fundamental process science to agronomics, technology development and social science. We seek to demonstrate this potential across three contrasting UK peatland types through large field experiments in combination with detailed assessments of the risks, barriers and opportunities to scaling this GGR technology.
UK peatlands form part of a huge global peat resource, much of which is degraded and emitting GHGs, but which could also be converted to function as a GHG sink. This project will therefore benefit a wide range of UK and international academic groups, including:
- Peatland ecologists, biogeochemists and modellers who require underpinning data relating to soil processes and GHG regulation.
- Eco-hydrologists and restoration scientists seeking to understand peatland form and function in response to rewetting and re-vegetation strategies such as Sphagnum planting.
- Agronomic researchers including those specialising in paludiculture seeking to achieve environmental and economic benefits from wet cultivation practices.
- Biochar and bioenergy scientists exploring new opportunities to deploy GGR technologies in the landscape, and to identify potential long-term C storage mechanisms.
- Scientists working on ecosystem services and natural capital who will more broadly benefit from the range of data collected at each of the demonstrators.
- Social scientists and economists studying the underlying drivers of peatland degradation and seeking to identify societally acceptable and economically viable alternative forms of management, who will benefit from the extensive landowner and stakeholder survey data collected for the project.
- International peatland scientists, including those working on tropical peatlands, seeking new forms of land-use on peat soils that reduce their current contribution to global GHG emissions while supporting sustainable development.
Internal (project) beneficiaries
- The project will provide training for 7 PDRAs. These PDRAs will benefit from the skills they develop in their specific disciplines (field monitoring of GHG emissions, crop breeding, agricultural economics, social sciences) and the experience of working in a multi-disciplinary team.
- The project will be highly relevant to parallel GGR research in this BBSRC programme including projects examining nature based solutions, agricultural GHG mitigation, biochar and bioenergy-BECCs.
- We will open up our demonstrators as research hubs for others to use for GRR and non-GGR research including PhDs and new proposal work (our existing lowland peat research programme currently supports 3 NERC-funded PhDs).
- We will administer our Flexibility Fund to extend collaborations with academic partners to strengthen the uptake, innovation and scalability of the research.
Local landowners & land managers
Those who own land or the rights to land in and adjacent to GGR-Peat demonstration sites or future sites; this might include game estate staff, peat cutters, tenant farmers and Commons graziers’ associations.
This group has a strong interest in the demonstration sites given the direct impact the sites are likely to have on their objectives, and have the power to significantly shape the course of the project. Depending on the outcomes of the project, land managers may benefit from new income generation and management options, although their actions may in some cases be constrained by their limited or specific tenure rights.
Suppliers to peatland landowners and managers
Companies supplying GGR-Peat demonstration sites and other peatland landowners and managers; example might include those suppling seeds or cuttings, agritech companies who provide processed organic 'wastes' (e.g. biochar producers), and transport and spread amendments and agricultural contractors with moorland interests & activities.
Depending on the success or otherwise of demonstration sites, these companies could stand to gain new business opportunities supplying farms that adopt new GGR practices. Despite the strong interest of the more specialist companies in the project, most are SMEs with limited wider influence on the adoption of practices among farmers.
Conservation/climate NGOs and representative organisations
Organisations with peatland conservation or climate goals.
This group has a strong interest in the research as it intersects with their organizational aims. NGOs with peatland landholdings may be able to directly implement project findings, while others may be able to influence other landowners and policymakers to help increase adoption of GGR interventions.
Groups that pursue recreational activities in peatlands such as ramblers, hikers, campers and mountain biking clubs.
Although this hard-to-reach group may have limited interest in GGR from peatlands directly, and may stand to benefit little directly from the project, some interventions may negatively impact existing recreational uses, and this group is often marginalized in peatland decision-making processes.
Regulatory and policy
Organisations with regulatory powers or responsibility for setting policies that affect peatlands; this may include Local planning authorities, Natural Resources Wales, Scottish Environmental Protection Agency and the Committee on Climate Change.
This group has a strong interest in GGR from peatlands, given the ambitious climate policy targets that exist across the UK. With their regulatory powers, this group has significant influence on issues for which there is existing legislation e.g. protected areas and planning, and has the potential to introduce new policy where needed.
International organisations with major programmes relating to peatlands such as the UN Food & Agriculture Organisation, UNEP Global Peatlands Initiative and Wetlands International.
Although these organisations have limited direct influence in the UK, they have a strong interest in GGR from peatlands and a track record of enabling findings from UK peatland research, policy and practice to be adopted in comparable countries around the world.
GGR-Peat will test and demonstrate nature-based and technologically-based engineering solutions at the field scale; rigorously evaluating their GGR potential, co-benefits, trade-offs and risks; identifying socio-economic barriers and developing new economic opportunities and funding mechanisms.
These elements of our project will be combined to investigate a research topic of global significance to a range of stakeholders and beneficiaries.
We will publish our results in high-impact, open-access journals, and present work at national and international conferences. As UKRI funded scientists our datasets and results will be comprehensive and publicly available for use by all researchers.