Carbon investing is becoming increasingly important, as consumers pay increasing attention to the environmental impact of who they bank with. Financial firms are now also paying more attention to where investments are made, and are looking for new ways to offset their carbon impact.
One such solution that aims to facilitate investment into new areas, to benefit the environment comes from a new partnership between Ordnance Survey, Natural England and Durham University to produce a detailed carbon model for Thorne and Hatfield Moors, part of Humberhead Peatlands National Nature Reserve in the North of England.
The project ultimately looks to support the development of an accurate and detailed peat map of Thorne and Hatfield Moors, which could be used to monitor peatland health and help inform and target future restoration activity on the site.
Technical experts from Ordnance Survey are using geospatial data and Earth observation (EO) data to analyse the current condition of the peatland. This baselining technique could be rolled out nationwide, facilitating access to investment for large-scale peatland restoration projects from carbon markets.
Using this data, experts will accurately record different types of vegetation species, provide reporting on vegetation cover and health, monitor greenhouse gas emission types and establish the water table. The data will be presented on the Ordnance Survey’s VeriEarth platform, supported by a dashboard which will enable Natural England to assess site condition and monitor changes across a large site area with a high degree of accuracy. This enables a detailed carbon baseline to be established and accurately monitored which, could enable effective verification for a highly sophisticated approach to carbon accounting.
The project team explained that this technology could support a highly accurate assessment of the beneficial impact of peatland restoration on carbon emissions across a large site. It can also assess the potential for validation of restoration work under the Peatland Code. The aim is to meet the verification and monitoring requirements of this code and to satisfy carbon investors who are seeking the highest standards of project assurance.
‘Combat the risks of climate change’
Peatlands are the largest natural carbon store on land, storing more carbon than is currently present in the global atmosphere. It also has a net cooling effect on climate change. Natural England explained its aims to prevent further loss of peatland habitats, re-wetting peatland areas and returning them to their natural state. Such a course of action could make a significant contribution to achieving targets on reducing carbon emissions and reaching Net Zero by 2050, as well as improving water quality, reducing flood risk and support biodiversity.
Donna Lyndsay, sustainability lead at Ordnance Survey, said: “We need to protect our peatlands so they are healthy and rich in wildlife. Using geospatial data and our technical expertise we can provide valuable insights and evidence to ensure we are preserving carbon sinks and optimising site management.
“This type of project highlights the need for viable solutions to combat the risks of climate change and demonstrate how accurate geospatial data can provide credibility in nature-based restoration for investment, ensuring that organisations and landowners are effectively preserving and restoring our peatlands”.
Professor Fred Worrall, of the University of Durham, also offered his expertise on the subject: “The capacity of peatlands to provide nature-based solutions to meeting our net zero targets is significant. In Humberhead, Peatlands alone the capacity is enough for the whole of the City of Doncaster to become net zero for the next 30 years.
“To make these nature-based solutions possible we need ways to assess capacity, target the appropriate management, and assure that greenhouse gas savings have been made – the tools developed in this partnership enable that to happen”.