New work on carbon storage features on BBC news
(30 March 2007)
BBC News (1pm and 6pm news, 28th March, 2007) has reported new modelling by Dr. Fred Worrall and Dr Mark Reed (School of Environment, Leeds) of fieldwork conducted by James Rowson that has led to the reassessment of the potential for the UK's peatlands being an ongoing sink of atmospheric carbon. In the literature there are large numbers of studies of individual components of the peat carbon cycle but two studies have proposed a complete carbon budget for pristine peat (both published by Durham and Leeds Universities) and only one complete budget for a damaged peat (based on the work of James Rowson). However, the best long run study of a pristine, peat catchment suggests a net sink of approximately 11 tonnes C/km2 /yr, while the worst site so far known is for a heavily drained site where the annual loss of carbon was approximately 100 tonnes C/km2 /yr, therefore if the heavily damaged site could be transformed then the avoided loss and created sink would be equivalent to 111 tonnes C/km2 /yr (or 1.1 tonnes C/ha). If it is assumed that this transition takes 10 years, that the one off cost of restoration was £188 /ha; and that clients were prepared to pay £30 /tonne C sequestered then a simple calculation shows that for this investment the project would break even after 11 years. After twenty year period the amount of carbon sequestered would be 23 tonnes C, that is a profit of £505 /ha. In UK terms this would represent a profit of £1.5 billion over 20 years and a carbon saving equivalent to 2% of English road transport. Reports have also been published in the Independent, Farmer's Guardian and Yorkshire Post.