“The peak district national park is our equivalent of the Brazilian rainforest – It stores a vast amount of carbon; keeping that carbon in place, while absorbing more carbon, not letting it erode away into the atmosphere is a very important objective in all of our climate change ambitions” -Lord Chris Smith
It is estimated that the world’s peatbogs store up to 455 gigatonns of Carbon - that’s the equivalent of the total yearly C02 output of 438,038 coal-fired power stations. (There are currently 2300 coal-fired power stations in the world. 620 of these are in China)
The ability of these living landscapes to fix and store atmospheric carbon dioxide has and is being undermined by industrial pollution, agriculture the use of peat as fuel and in horticulture.
As Sphagnum moss grows, underlying Sphagnum vegetation’s dies off and decays to form peat which is almost 100% Carbon. Peatlands are the most efficient carbon sink on the planet and as peat grows in wetland bog environments, the rate of underlying peat oxidisation is very low.
Sphagnum Moss is sensitive to changes in air quality. About 8% of the UK is covered with blanket bog peat moorland. In the last 200 years, much of the living Sphagnum carpet has been killed. Firstly by pollution from the industrial revolution and more recently by government incentivised programmes to drain and manage moorland to make it more suitable for grazing and game management.
Once the sphagnum is gone, exposed and in many cases drained peatlands are free to degrade in the open atmosphere releasing back all the carbon that has been sequestered over thousands of years.