The UK’s first collaborative Peatland Strategy was launched this week, setting out a shared vision for a brighter future for our vital, but damaged peatlands.

In developing the strategy, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) UK Peatland Programme has involved stakeholders from across Government, third sector, scientific and land managing communities. All came together this week to launch the strategy.

Dr Emma Goodyer, strategy lead and manager of the programme said: “Collaborative action to bring about healthy peatlands is essential if we are to achieve the landscape-scale change required.

“That is why it was important to develop this strategy as a collective spanning across those involved in their management. Only by working with others towards a shared vision will we be able to realise our target of two million hectares of peatlands in healthy condition by 2040, and so ensure benefits not just for the animals and plants that depend on them, but for society as a whole.”

Peatlands, such as those in the North Pennines, are among the most valuable ecosystems on Earth. Occupying just three per cent of the Earth’s land surface, peatlands are the largest carbon store on land.

They provide clean water and food, and can act as buffers for environmental disasters, such as flooding. They are also globally significant for wildlife.

Chairman of the IUCN UK national committee Stuart Brooks said: “Although almost all peatland habitats in the UK are degraded – and require urgent action – the country has been world leading in its strategic approach to peatland conservation, recognising and stepping up to the challenge.”

The UK Peatland Strategy encompasses all peatlands in the country and recommends six goals to achieve change:

Conserve, restore and enhance the best peatlands.

Restore damaged peatlands to functioning ecosystems.

Adapt management of drained peatlands.

Sustainably manage healthy peatlands with compatible land uses.

Maintain a programme to oversee progress against strategic goals.

Communicate value of peatlands to a wide audience.