Peat Soils and Carbon Sequestration
Carbon sequestration is where atmospheric carbon dioxide is removed by natural or artificial processes and stored. Peat soils in Wales provide a signifcant carbon store The current estimate8 of the extent of deep peat soils (depth ≥0.5m) in Wales is 90,995ha, some 4% of the’ total land area. They provide Wales’ largest terrestrial ecosystem store of carbon, estimated at around 157mt.
It is estimated that if they were returned to near-natural condition, their climate change mitigation potential is 300,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. This is roughly the equivalent of 5% of all Welsh transport related emissions.
Approximately 30% of Wales’ peak bog is found within the boundaries of Snowdonia National Park. In order to get a more accurate assessment the National Park Authority has commissioned the mapping and evaluation of peat, peatland habitats, associated ecosystem services and restoration priorities within Snowdonia. The outputs of this work will include:
- a GIS based inventory of deep peat (>0.5m) deposits in and within a variable buffer of the National Park boundary;
- an estimate peat carbon stocks based on peat depth and peatland morphology to identify priority carbon storage sites within the project area;
- a map and evaluation of the habitat cover and condition of peatlands within and adjacent to the National Park at a plant community level such as NVC and/or Phase I. Habitat cover to be grouped into a series of classes which reflect the broad habitat condition; Maps and habitat cover extent tables will be produced showing the extent of overlap of these broad habitat cover classes on peat;
- a map showing drainage features (grips) on deep peat within the study area following methodology developed by BGS;
- a map of emission “hotspots” and restoration priorities by cross mapping emission factors to defined habitat cover categories to yield mapped outputs of emissions according to pre-agreed classes;
- the identification of key opportunities where restoration could be focussed to reduce emissions. This will require collation of evidence relating to habitat character and condition, topography (primarily slope) and proximity to rivers and lakes to identify priority sites for restoration. A third GIS layer to be developed reflecting ‘restoration urgency’ based on the vulnerability of peatland sites to further damage and carbon loss (e.g. severely eroded sites);
The outputs of this work, some of which will be incorporated into this document when they become available, will enable the Authority to develop a peatland strategy to help guide future restoration works as an element of sustainable land management and to help quantify some of the principal ecosystem service benefits associated with restoration. The map below shows the extent of peat soils in Snowdonia.
Peat Soils in Snowdonia
The map above shows the areas of peatland within Snowdonia National Park (green outline). The areas shown in purple display areas of peatland.
|Total Area (ha)||Peatland Area (ha)||% peat|
|Snowdonia National Park||213,969||25,460||12|
Total carbon stocks in peat and non-peat soil within Snowdonia National Park
|Peat C stock (t)||Average Peat C stock (t/ha)||Non-peat C stock (t)||Average Non-peat C stock (t/ha)|
8 A Snapshot of the State of Wales’ Natural Resources 2015