The Peatland Code is a voluntary standard for UK peatland projects wishing to market the climate benefit of peatland restoration. It was launched initially in 2015 after extensive work by many parties, including Forest Carbon, funded by the UK government. it is intended that the Code will follow the path set down by the Woodland Carbon Code by achieving full ISO14065 audit status, and having its credits listed on the Markit Registry. Forest Carbon expects to be the first entity to achieve certification of a Peatland Code project, at Dryhope, in early to mid-2018.
Peatlands are naturally waterlogged systems which slow decomposition and enable plant remains, containing carbon removed from the atmosphere by photosynthesis, to be laid down as peat. Healthy peatlands can accumulate carbon, in the form of peat, at a rate of approximately 1mm a year, as well as continuing to store carbon from millennia before.
Much of the UK’s peatland, however, is no longer sequestering and storing carbon - instead due to previous land management practices it has become a significant net source of greenhouse gases as it dries and degrades. In fact peatlands currently emit around 16 million tonnes of CO2e each year - equivalent to around half of all of the reduction efforts made annually in the UK. Preventing further damage and restoring healthy ecosystem function can therefore play an important role in climate regulation within the UK.
The UK has committed to safeguarding peatlands and restoration work here has been shown to be effective - restoration stops CO2 losses immediately, as well as then creating conditions for laying down fresh peat. The good news is that, like woodlands, restored peatlands also make significant other contributions to the UK, including improved water quality, habitat creation, and flood mitigation.
A significant barrier to restoration is financial, with current public funding being limited. To make peatland restoration economically attractive additional funding is required, such as that provided by the voluntary carbon market to woodland creation. As with woodland creation and the Woodland Carbon Code, a quality assurance mechanism is required to ensure businesses and individuals supporting peatland restoration can be sure of the carbon benefits of their projects.
The Peatland Code is a voluntary standard for UK peatland projects wishing to market the climate benefit of restoration. It sets out a series of best practice requirements including a standard method of quantification which when validated by an independent body will give assurance to buyers that their purchase will return verifiable climate benefit over the project duration.