In the UK peatlands hold more carbon than any other habitat type – for example, they hold about 20 times as much as all the UK’s woodland. Ensuring they are in good condition is important to help reduce the impacts of climate change.
If peatlands are in healthy condition they absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air and because bog plants don’t decompose very quickly, they store it underground as peat – they are a ‘carbon sink’.
If peatlands are in poor condition, peat is eroded and decomposes. Previously stored carbon is released as CO2, contributing to accelerating climate change. In this condition the peat has become a ‘carbon source’.
Storing carbon is just one of the multiple benefits provided by healthy moorlands and peatlands as they can also help to regulate water quality, slow the speed of rainfall run-off (reducing the risk of downstream flooding events), reduce wildfire risk and provide a habitat for many plants and animals.