Global peatlands are vital stores of carbon, but they are under threat. Changing patterns of land-use from deforestation to mining risk dramatically increasing carbon gas emissions from decomposing peat. Peatland mapping and restoration projects that can protect and restore peatlands represent an urgent, nature-based solution to the challenge of removing carbon from the atmosphere.

Group of hikers cross peatlands

From the Amazon to the Scottish Highlands

Over the past twenty years, the University of Edinburgh has hosted over 50 peatland research projects across the natural and physical sciences. Our researchers work across tropical, equatorial, and arctic ecosystems – from Amazonia to the Congo, from the Scottish Highlands to Scandinavia – and across the natural, physical and social sciences.

Using data from space, we are contributing to the restoration of peatlands globally. Our researchers have revealed the world’s largest tropical peatland in the geographical heart of Africa and that peatlands in the Amazon are emitting CO2 at an increase of 11-fold.

Since 2018 our research output has included over 30 peer reviewed scientific papers on the threats and opportunities for carbon sequestration in global peatlands. Recent work includes studies of methane release from thawing peatlands; evaluations of wind farm impact assessments for peatland conservation; and studies of earth observation methodologies for remote peatland assessment.

Institutional commitment to carbon capture and store

The University of Edinburgh as an institution has committed to capturing and storing over one million tonnes of unavoidable CO2 emissions to benefit nature, through restoring peatlands and expanding forests in Scotland. The university’s first ever Forests and Peatlands projects coordinator will link these investments to teaching, learning and research.

Our leading academics include Dr Nicolle Bell (Chemistry), an expert on processes of peatland degradation and restoration at a molecular level, and Professor Ed Mitchard (Geosciences), an expert in the development of methods for mapping global peatland using satellite data.

Name: Dr. Nicolle Bell