New research published shows that peatland rewetting can be used as a vital climate change mitigation tool to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to generate suitable conditions for the return of carbon (C) sequestration.

Wilson et al. (2022) present annual C balances for a 5-year period at a rewetted peatland in Ireland and compare the results with an adjacent drained area, using a modelling exercise to determine future scenarios.

The drained area was a net C source throughout the study. In contrast, the rewetted area was a net C sink, despite relatively large annual methane emissions post-rewetting. The modelling showed that for future socio-economic projections under the lowest emission scenario, the site will have a warming effect until 2085 but will then have a strong cooling impact. In contrast, that the site will never have a cooling impact under the highest emission scenario.

These results confirm the importance of rapid rewetting of drained peatland sites to (a) achieve strong C emissions reductions, (b) establish optimal conditions for C sequestration and (c) set the site on a climate cooling trajectory.

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