Economic benefits of peatland restoration: making the numbers count for policy

Julia Martin-Ortega has recently been awarded an Impact Acceleration Account fund from ESRC for the project entitled Economic benefits of peatland restoration: making the numbers count for policy.

The project, worth £15,000, involves Julia and researchers from The James Hutton Institute (Anja Byg), Scotland’s Rural College (Klaus Glenk) and Scottish Natural Heritage.

Please find below a brief description of the background and objectives of the project.

Peatlands have formed over millennia, providing a range of ecosystem services that are key to human well-being, such as carbon storage, water quality, biodiversity and wildlife habitat, and cultural services e.g. cultural identity. Climate change and land-use are altering the structure and function of peatlands, which threatens the delivery of these ecosystem services. This has raised policy concern internationally and peatlands have been identified as a priority in international agreements such as the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. Restoration programmes are consequently being deployed across the globe. Increasingly, these policies recognize the need for understanding and quantifying benefits provided by peatlands. This project provides insight into public perceptions and values of the benefits that can be obtained from peatland restoration in Scotland, so that they are ready to use by policy-makers to inform public investments associated with implementing Scotland’s National Peatland Plan (e.g. through Cost-Benefit-Analysis). Also, this can help trigger further private investment related to carbon markets (e.g. UK’s Peatland Carbon Code). The project will translate the results of a national level survey and focus groups carried out in Scotland in a way that is easy to understand by non-specialists and can be directly used by policy-makers and practitioners.