Supermarket chain Co-op is working with the RSPB charity on what the two organisations describe as an “ambitious” and long-term management peatland restoration project.
The three-year partnership will involve the Co-op and RSPB focusing their peatland restoration work on areas of internationally important, RSPB-owned upland peatland in Scotland and Wales – the equivalent in size to around 400 football pitches.
Co-op and RSPB aim to bring vital peatland back into good condition which is widely regarded as a way of reducing carbon loss, which in turn can help tackle the climate and environment crisis.
According to the IUCN Peatland Programme, in the UK alone an estimated 3.2 billion tonnes of carbon are stored in peatlands, and it is believed that without any intervention to repair and preserve these areas and with almost 80% of UK peatland degraded, their greenhouse gas emissions could exceed the equivalent of 20 million tonnes of CO2 each year.
Peatland restoration is therefore an important area of focus for those keen to protect the environment. The projects set to get under way as part of the new tie-up are expected to deliver several benefits, including protecting habitats for wildlife and, potentially, improving water quality and reducing flood risk by regulating water flow.
Initial areas of focus are Cerniau at RSPB Lake Vyrnwy in Powys, and Lumbister at RSPB Yell, which is situated on one of Shetland’s most northern isles.
Guy Stuart, director of sustainability, technical & agriculture at Co-op, commented: “We are in the grip of a climate and environment emergency, a crisis which is of humankind’s making and around the world we are seeing shocking water shortages, floods, extreme heat and biodiversity losses.
“It’s widely acknowledged that de-carbonisation needs to speed up and through co-operation of the global community, we can work together to reduce carbon at a faster rate. Our pioneering partnership with the RSPB will play a part in helping to avoid carbon emissions through repairing vital peatlands to increase carbon stores and support our work to prioritise action where we are able to make the most impact.”
Rebecca Munro, RSPB’s executive director for income & conservation investment, said: “For us to have any chance of averting the climate crisis we need to be working far more closely with nature; to use the solutions it offers to help lock up carbon whilst also delivering for birds and other wildlife.
“Businesses have a vital role to play in the transition to net zero and we are excited to be working with Co-op to protect and restore some of our most precious upland sites to make sure these places are delivering for our climate whilst also providing a lasting home for our wildlife.”
[Image credit: Co-op]