Identifying, understanding and appreciating the value of nature to human society has become an increasing focus of research as natural environments become increasingly modified.
Peat moorlands are an internationally important resource, providing environmental, economic and social benefits including: carbon storage and sequestration; water regulation; biodiversity protection; natural risk mitigation and recreation opportunities, amongst others (see right). These products and services are ’freely’ provided by functioning moorlands however are costly to replace once ecosystems are degraded or lost.
Valuing ecosystems is inherently difficult, not least because the products and services they provide are not mutually exclusive, for example: when attempting to understand the effects of peatland restoration on hydrological services at a landscape scale (see below) the;
- composition of the vegetation community (especially peat forming vegetation) & related animal communities;
- physical stability of peat soils;
- quantity and quality of raw water provision (including drinking water);
- flood risk mitigation;
- carbon regulation and related greenhouse gas fluxes (which have implications for climate change mitigation);
are all inter-linked and dynamic processes, which are linked to the level of the water table.
By taking a holistic approach and identifying which benefits, goods and services uplands provide, and to who, we can evaluate how best to manage moorlands to ensure as many communities share as many benefits as possible, and that the ecosystem, along with the services that it provides, remains sustainable.
For more information on Ecosystem Services of Peatland see :