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Future Roles of Peatlands Florence Renou-Wilson, David Wilson Christoph Müller University College Dublin
Overview <ul><li>Definitions </li></ul><ul><li>Historical uses of peat </li></ul><ul><li>Future roles </li></ul>
Definitions <ul><li>Peat </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Organic soil  </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>At least 30% organic matter </li><...
Global Peatlands
Irish Peatlands  <ul><ul><li>Cover ~ 20% of national land area or 1.46 million ha </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>(Connolly...
Raised  bog Rewetted cutaway bog Fen Montane blanket  bog Lowland blanket  bog Examples of Irish peatlands
Historical Uses of Peatlands <ul><li>Extraction of peat for fuel </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Hand cut </li></ul></ul>
Historical Uses of Peatlands <ul><li>Extraction of peat for fuel </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Hand cut </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li...
Historical Uses of Peatlands <ul><li>Extraction of peat for fuel </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Hand cut </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li...
Historical Uses of Peatlands <ul><li>Extraction of peat for fuel </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Hand cut </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li...
Historical Uses of Peatlands <ul><li>Extraction of peat for fuel </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Hand cut </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li...
Current Status of Irish Peatlands <ul><li>Significant but degraded resource </li></ul><ul><li>Rate of change in the status...
What are the Future Roles of Peatlands? <ul><ul><li>1. Biodiversity  </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>2. Carbon store </li></ul>...
1. Biodiversity in Irish Peatlands <ul><ul><li>Ireland is home to the finest examples of raised bogs and blanket bogs of i...
1. Biodiversity in Irish Peatlands <ul><ul><li>Loss of peatlands  = Loss of biodiversity  at regional, national and intern...
1. Biodiversity: Actions for the Future <ul><ul><li>Greater protection of more peatland sites    protect biodiversity.  <...
2. Carbon store <ul><ul><li>Close relationship between peatlands and climate </li></ul></ul>
Peatlands  Climate  sequester CO 2 release CH 4 precipitation temperature
2. Carbon store <ul><ul><li>Close relationship between peatlands and climate </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Irish peatlands co...
Land use category Area  Annual C gas flux  (ha) (tonnes C yr -1 ) Near-intact peatland 227,784   +57,402 Agriculture  345,...
2. Carbon store <ul><li>Climate change </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Uncertain due to lack of long term studies </li></ul></ul><ul...
Threats Peat extraction Climate change Carbon store
Threats Peat extraction Climate change Carbon store Action Required  Cessation of extraction Protection Conservation Resto...
3. Energy production <ul><li>Peat accounts for ~ 7% of Ireland’s power requirements: 3 peat fired power stations + domesti...
3. Energy production: wind farms <ul><li>More than half of wind farms are located on peatlands </li></ul><ul><li>Mainly on...
3. Energy production: wind farms <ul><li>Guidance for good Environmental Impact Assessment to be followed to optimise siti...
Summary: future research in peatland <ul><li>In recent years much research has been directed at peatlands </li></ul><ul><l...
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Future Roles of Peatlands -Christoph Müller, Florence Renou-Wilson, David Wilson - EPA June 2010

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Future Roles of Peatlands -Christoph Müller, Florence Renou-Wilson, David Wilson - EPA June 2010

  1. 1. Future Roles of Peatlands Florence Renou-Wilson, David Wilson Christoph Müller University College Dublin
  2. 2. Overview <ul><li>Definitions </li></ul><ul><li>Historical uses of peat </li></ul><ul><li>Future roles </li></ul>
  3. 3. Definitions <ul><li>Peat </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Organic soil </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>At least 30% organic matter </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>50% carbon (C) by dry wt </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Peatland </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A geographical area of peat soil </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Widely distributed </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Global Peatlands
  5. 5. Irish Peatlands <ul><ul><li>Cover ~ 20% of national land area or 1.46 million ha </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>(Connolly et al. 2010) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Blanket bogs, raised bogs, fens + industrial cutaways </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Differ floristically and hydrologically </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Raised bog Rewetted cutaway bog Fen Montane blanket bog Lowland blanket bog Examples of Irish peatlands
  7. 7. Historical Uses of Peatlands <ul><li>Extraction of peat for fuel </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Hand cut </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Historical Uses of Peatlands <ul><li>Extraction of peat for fuel </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Hand cut </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Small scale mechanisation </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Historical Uses of Peatlands <ul><li>Extraction of peat for fuel </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Hand cut </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Small scale mechanisation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Industrial extraction </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Historical Uses of Peatlands <ul><li>Extraction of peat for fuel </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Hand cut </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Small scale mechanisation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Industrial extraction </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Agriculture </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Grazing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reclamation </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Historical Uses of Peatlands <ul><li>Extraction of peat for fuel </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Hand cut </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Small scale mechanisation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Industrial extraction </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Agriculture </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Grazing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reclamation </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Forestry </li></ul>
  12. 12. Current Status of Irish Peatlands <ul><li>Significant but degraded resource </li></ul><ul><li>Rate of change in the status of Irish peatlands has increased dramatically in the twentieth century </li></ul><ul><li>Very small amount of near-intact peatlands left </li></ul>
  13. 13. What are the Future Roles of Peatlands? <ul><ul><li>1. Biodiversity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>2. Carbon store </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>3. Energy: burning for electricity and wind farms </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. 1. Biodiversity in Irish Peatlands <ul><ul><li>Ireland is home to the finest examples of raised bogs and blanket bogs of international importance and therefore Ireland has a clear international responsibility for the conservation of such exceptional landscape biodiversity. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Peatlands support low but unusual and rare species with exceptional adaptation and more species have yet to be discovered. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>BOGLAND project (2006-2009) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Baseline data for birds, terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Invertebrate species new to Ireland and to Science </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Other species on Ireland’s Red List of species </li></ul></ul></ul>
  15. 15. 1. Biodiversity in Irish Peatlands <ul><ul><li>Loss of peatlands = Loss of biodiversity at regional, national and international levels. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Drivers of biodiversity change in peatlands: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>habitat change (over-grazing, afforestation, drainage, erosion, wind farms, burning, recreational activities) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>over-exploitation (energy, horticulture, domestic cutting) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>climate change </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>nutrient pollution </li></ul></ul></ul>
  16. 16. 1. Biodiversity: Actions for the Future <ul><ul><li>Greater protection of more peatland sites  protect biodiversity. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Conservation programmes for biodiversity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Establishment of a network of protected areas </li></ul></ul>
  17. 17. 2. Carbon store <ul><ul><li>Close relationship between peatlands and climate </li></ul></ul>
  18. 18. Peatlands Climate sequester CO 2 release CH 4 precipitation temperature
  19. 19. 2. Carbon store <ul><ul><li>Close relationship between peatlands and climate </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Irish peatlands contain around 1.5 billion tonnes C (Eaton et al. 2008) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>BOGLAND project </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Less than 20% of Irish peatlands are in a near-intact condition </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Main threats to the peatland C store: </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>land use change </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>climate change </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  20. 20. Land use category Area Annual C gas flux (ha) (tonnes C yr -1 ) Near-intact peatland 227,784 +57,402 Agriculture 345,606 nd Forestry 293,000 nd Cutover peatland 468,629 -808,385 Industrial peat extraction 100,000 -275,800 Cutaway peatland Forestry 16,450 +20,562 Regenerated 4,250 -22,313 Alkaline wetland 4,250 -18,402 Acid wetland 6,500 nd Related activities Domestic combustion - -323,025 Industrial combustion - -752,268 Horticulture - -517,500 ______________________________________________________________________ Total 1,466,469 -2,639,729 ____________________________________________________________ Area and estimated annual C gas flux from Irish peatlands. (Negative values indicate a net loss of C).
  21. 21. 2. Carbon store <ul><li>Climate change </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Uncertain due to lack of long term studies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>May increase C sequestration (more precipitation) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Large C losses (drought conditions) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Large decrease in peatland area by 2050? (Jones et al. 2006) </li></ul></ul>
  22. 22. Threats Peat extraction Climate change Carbon store
  23. 23. Threats Peat extraction Climate change Carbon store Action Required Cessation of extraction Protection Conservation Restoration
  24. 24. 3. Energy production <ul><li>Peat accounts for ~ 7% of Ireland’s power requirements: 3 peat fired power stations + domestic sector </li></ul><ul><li>Peat is amongst the most carbon intensive of fuels in terms of emissions </li></ul><ul><li>The future? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Move away from energies with high carbon emissions (EU ETS) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Peat to be co-fired with biomass by 2015 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>No new peatlands to be exploited </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Wind farms </li></ul></ul>Energy generated by fuel type in 2008 Expected share of energy source by 2020
  25. 25. 3. Energy production: wind farms <ul><li>More than half of wind farms are located on peatlands </li></ul><ul><li>Mainly on blanket bogs and heaths </li></ul><ul><li>Associated risks (peat failure or bog slide; uncertainties with regards to long-term impacts on carbon store) </li></ul>ESB wind farm near Derrybrien, 6 years after bog slides
  26. 26. 3. Energy production: wind farms <ul><li>Guidance for good Environmental Impact Assessment to be followed to optimise siting of wind farm </li></ul><ul><li>Protected areas to be avoided despite energy policy drive </li></ul><ul><li>Industrial cutaway peatlands should be preferred (also in public opinion, BOGLAND project) </li></ul>
  27. 27. Summary: future research in peatland <ul><li>In recent years much research has been directed at peatlands </li></ul><ul><li>(e.g. www.ucd.ie/bogland , www.ucd.ie/carbonrestore ) </li></ul><ul><li>Large information gaps still remain </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Peatland restoration and GHG emissions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>C dynamics on forested peatlands, agricultural peat soils and wind farm developments </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Biodiversity in less studied habitats: blanket bogs and fens and trends during restoration work </li></ul></ul>
  28. 28. Thank you

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