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Why peatlands matter?

Peatlands are crucial for carbon sequestration – the process of removing carbon from the atmosphere and storing it. In fact, they are the “unsung hero” when it comes to tackling climate change, storing twice as much carbon as the world’s forests.

They are also vital as biodiversity “hotspots” that support rare and declining species. Yet many businesses are simply unaware of this vital ecosystem and its importance for nature, people and climate, and their own operations.

Benefits to nature and society

  • Biodiversity: Worldwide, peatland habitats are home to rare, often endemic species (those not found anywhere else in the world), from red grouse, hen harriers and sphagnum moss to orangutans. They include a range of rare and declining habitats and ecosystems.
  • Flood mitigation and prevention: Peatlands reduce the risk of flood by absorbing excess water during heavy rainfall.
  • Water purification and water provision: Peatlands purify water through their unique physical and chemical properties, and are an important source of fresh drinking water.
  • Drought and wildfire mitigation: By storing water during the rainy season and slowly releasing it during the dry season, peatlands can help prevent drought and wildfires.

Benefits to businesses

Peatlands are the largest natural terrestrial carbon sinks, storing more carbon than all the other vegetation types in the world combined. Wet peatlands lower the temperature in the atmosphere around them, and preserve air quality because they are less likely to burn during wildfires.

Peatland restoration and conservation provide an opportunity for businesses to take concrete action to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Peatlands provide high-quality drinking water and are vital to the water supply of many countries. Water that has passed through a peatland area is naturally of high quality, with few pollutants and low levels of minerals.

This water can be treated at a low cost once it reaches a water treatment plant.

Peatlands play a vital role in reducing the risk of flooding because they can store excess water during storms and periods of heavy rainfall. Peatlands reduce the speed at which stormwater reaches river channels, thus delaying and reducing flood peaks.

Major floods disrupt business operations and can cause major financial losses that businesses may not be able to recover from.

As well as offering habitats for a wide range of plants, animals and fungi, the natural beauty of peatlands makes them attractive to tourists, generating income for local communities.

Eco-tourism can combine recreational activities with programmes to inform and educate tourists about the importance of maintaining and protecting peatlands.

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