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The peatland question - should we continue to cultivate and if so, how?

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Online (Zoom)
Event date
Event time
15:00 - 16:00 GMT

Advertiser's description (via Eventbrite)

Peatlands are incredible - globally they cover 3% of land area but hold more than twice the carbon in all the world’s forests. But managing them is a conundrum and a balancing act between short and long term food security, biodiversity, climate, and livelihoods: Their carbon-rich soils make them food-producing power-houses (accounting for 30-40% of UK-grown potatoes and vegetables) but also significant carbon emitters when drained and cultivated (1% of UK carbon emissions). Those who farm peatlands are often acutely aware of this issue, but don’t know what to do: Rewetting peatlands can lock this carbon back up and improve biodiversity, but rewet them too much and they start to emit methane, and of course displace food production elsewhere and potentially impact livelihoods too. So, what should we do? Prof Heiko Balzter, from the University of Leicester, will unravel this topic for us: Last year he convened 40 researchers and peatland farmers in the East Anglian Fens, an area that accounts for around 27% of England’s total peatland, and on which 4,000 farms and 80,000 livelihoods depend. Prof Balzter will present his main findings and possible ways forward. 

Heiko will cover;

  • UK peatlands currently - their importance, services, and emissions
  • Key trade-offs with peatland management, including; emissions, food production/ security/ displacement, biodiversity, livelihoods
  • Farmer voices - the challenges peatland farmers face
  • Whether food production and emissions reductions is possible, and how 
  • The potential of 80 new/ novel crops identified and their market development 
  • Urgent research and policy needs 

The webinar will be chaired by Jez Fredenburgh, Knowledge Exchange Fellow for the AFN Network+, and agri-food journalist. Jez is based at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia.

Please note that this webinar will be recorded.

About Heiko:

Prof Heiko Balzter is a professor of Physical Geography and Director of the Institute for Environmental Futures. His research interests include carbon accounting, Earth observation and remote sensing of land use and forests. He has received numerous awards for his research, including the Royal Geographical Society’s Cuthbert Peek Award ‘for advancing geographical knowledge of human impact through earth observation’ (2015). He leads UKRI’s Landscape Decisions Programme and NERC’s National Centre for Earth Observation’s International Programme, and he was an AFN Network+ Champion 2022-2023. 

Register for the event here