uk peatlands

Wildlife Trust urges UK to ban peat farming and seabed trawling to cut carbon

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The Wildlife Trust has called on the Government to ban seabed trawling and farming on deep peats as part of measures to cut carbon emissions and protect the natural environment.

The charity, which represents 46 local trusts that look after more than 2,300 nature reserves between them, said the Government should be placing greater focus on climate action ahead of the international COP26 talks in Glasgow later this month.

It wants the UK to “significantly increase” peatland restoration and ban the sale and use of peat in gardening and compost products.

Peat is typically used in compost because of its ability to retain water and nutrients, but to harvest it, bogs need to be drained and the top surface of the peat gradually stripped away.

Not only does this destroy rare and endangered habitats and the flora and fauna that rely on them, but also allows the peat to react with the air, releasing vast quantities of carbon dioxide.

It also wants to ban bottom-trawling the seabed in England, which conservationists warn releases carbon stored in the sediment and habitat.

The Wildlife Trust said that greater use of sustainable farming practices that lock carbon into the soil and increasing the natural regeneration of woods would have an impact on the UK’s carbon emissions too.

Craig Bennett, chief executive of The Wildlife Trusts, said: “Net zero needs nature. Nature needs net zero. Both need to be resilient to the climate of the future. Nature’s fantastic ability to trap carbon safely and provide other important benefits is proven – peatland, woodland, saltmarsh and other wild habitats are vital carbon stores.

But these natural places are in decline and face even greater risk of degradation from the extreme climatic conditions that are already inevitable over the next 30 years. It’s becoming a vicious spiral of damage – one that has to be stopped right now.

“In addition to the urgent task of cutting emissions at source, we need to see an enormous rise in the amount of land and sea that’s protected for nature – and increase it to at least 30 per cent by 2030.

“Also, the Government must embed climate action – mitigation and adaptation – across every department and take urgent steps to stop carbon-emitting activities such as new road building, peat burning and trawling the seabed.”

Alok Sharma MP, the UK’s full-time President for COP26, recently called on major polluting countries to deliver on their promise to put forward more ambitious plans to tackle climate change ahead of their appearance at the summit.

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