Climate Change Mitigation
Improving Carbon Storage
There is a world-wide consensus that restoration of hydrology in damaged peatlands can improve carbon storage, water storage and attenuation and help support biodiversity. Gunther et al., (2020) also concludes that postponing rewetting of degraded peatlands increases the long-term warming effect through continued CO2 emissions.
Researchers in Ireland have also reached the same conclusion for Irish peatlands. The Environmental Protection Agency funded the BOGLAND project (Renou-Wilson et. al., 2012) and concluded that restoration and the managed re-wetting of Irish bogs was essential for returning damaged peatlands on a trajectory towards becoming peat-forming ecosystems again. The EPA-funded Carbon Restore Project (Renou-Wilson et. al., 2017) also reported that actively managed rewetting of drained peatlands in Ireland can lead to restoration of functional peatland, such as the return of typical plant and animal species, which in turn may lead to the restoration of peat-formation and the Carbon-sink function.
Irish peatlands are a huge carbon store, containing more than 75% of the national soil organic carbon (Renou-Wilson et al., 2012). Peat extraction transforms a natural peatland which acts as a modest carbon sink into a cutaway ecosystem which is a large source of carbon dioxide (2–5 t C/ha/year) (Waddington and McNeil, 2002; Alm et al., 2007; Wilson et al., 2007). Furthermore, they are also a significant source of methane (Huttunen et al., 2003; Laine et al., 2007a) as a consequence of the anoxic conditions within the peat body that provide a suitable environment for the microbial breakdown of plant litter and root exudates.