Towards the development of a UK Peatland Code: Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) Pilot Research Project

Project report


Reed, M. S., Bonn, A., Evans, C., Joosten, H., Bain, B., Farmer, J., Emmer, I., Couwenberg, J., Moxey, A., Artz, R., Tanneberger, F, von Unger, M., Smyth, M., Birnie, R., Inman, I., Smith, S., Quick, T., Cowap, C., Prior, S. and Lindsay, R. 2013. Towards the development of a UK Peatland Code: Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) Pilot Research Project. London Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs.
AuthorsReed, M. S., Bonn, A., Evans, C., Joosten, H., Bain, B., Farmer, J., Emmer, I., Couwenberg, J., Moxey, A., Artz, R., Tanneberger, F, von Unger, M., Smyth, M., Birnie, R., Inman, I., Smith, S., Quick, T., Cowap, C., Prior, S. and Lindsay, R.
TypeProject report
Abstract

This Final Report describes research into the rationale and basis for the development of a UK
Peatland Code. The development of the Code was supported by the latest relevant research evidence, via an international expert workshop, and by feedback from the Code’s Steering Group and 17 individuals/organisations from across the UK. The Code was launched in September 2013, at the start of an 18-month pilot phase of operation, in which the Code will be further developed, and is available online: http://www.iucn-uk-peatlandprogramme.org/peatland-code.

There is growing interest in the creation of new markets to facilitate private investment in the provision of ecosystem services, and this was a key emphasis of Defra’s 2011 Natural Environment White Paper. The White Paper led to the formation of an Ecosystem Markets Taskforce to identify business opportunities in the natural environment that recommended the development of a UK Peatland Code in its report in March 2013. Subsequently in May 2013, Defra published an action plan for developing the potential for payments for ecosystem services in which it committed to work in partnership with the IUCN and others to support the testing, development and launch later in 2013 of a pilot UK Peatland Code.

UK peatlands are a relevant place to explore the potential to pay for ecosystem services, given the range and importance of ecosystem services that they supply, and that fact that many of these service are not widely or fully paid for via agricultural support payments or by markets. This has led to the degradation of many peatlands through inappropriate burning, overWgrazing and drainage, leading to reductions in carbon storage, water quality and biodiversity. Investing in conserving and restoring peatlands is therefore a key tool to help deliver the UK’s climate change obligations, whilst helping meet other national and international obligations on biodiversity and water quality.

Although there is growing interest from the private sector in paying for some of these ecosystem services, and there have been a small number of bilateral agreements to pay for peatland restoration via the Corporate Social Responsibility market, there is a need to develop guidance, frameworks and monitoring to provide sponsors with the confidence necessary to restore peatlands on any significant scale.

This Payment for Ecosystem Service (PES) pilot research project therefore conducted the research necessary to develop and launch a UK pilot Peatland Code, designed to support markets that could pay for the restoration and reWwetting of degraded peatlands across the UK. The research project and subsequent Code drew significantly on Defra’s PES Best Practice Guide, first identifying a saleable ecosystem service and prospective buyers and sellers, based on previous work and new market research conducted as part of this project (Phase 1 in the PES Guide). The Code establishes the principles for a peatland PES scheme, and resolves a number of technical issues, to make it possible for buyers and sellers to work together for peatland restoration (Phase 2 in the PES Guide).

The Code also provides guidance on contracts and monitoring (Phases 3 and 4 of the PES Guide), and takes a bundled approach to PES (a ‘premium carbon’ scheme that provides a range of coWbenefits), whilst not ruling out the possibility of layered schemes (e.g. using the Code to elicit payments for climate mitigation benefits on top of existing schemes that pay for water quality benefits) (Phase 5 of the PES Guide). The research offers a number of insights into the creation of markets for ecosystem services linked to peatland restoration. It also offers insights of more general relevance to the creation and implementation of new markets for ecosystem services, which may be of relevance to other habitats and ecosystems in the UK, and to the development of new PES schemes internationally.

Keywordspeat bog systems; lowland
Year2013
PublisherDepartment for Environment Food and Rural Affairs
Place of publicationLondon
Web address (URL)http://randd.defra.gov.uk/Default.aspx?Menu=Menu&Module=More&Location=None&ProjectID=18642
http://www.iucn-uk-peatlandprogramme.org/peatland-code
FunderDefra
Publication dates
Print2013
Publication process dates
Deposited18 Mar 2014
Copyright holderCrown copyright
Publisher's version
License
CC BY
Publisher's version
License
CC BY
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