Leeds University

Understanding ecosystem stocks and tipping points in UK peatlands

Image credit Rebekka Artz

Dr. Julia Martin-Ortega, Prof. Andy Baird, Dr. Martin Dallimer, and Dr. Dylan Young from the Faculty of Environment, together with colleagues from Newcastle University,  the Scottish Association for Marine Science, the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and the British Trust for Ornithology, have been awarded almost half a million pounds by the Natural Environment Research Council’s Valuing Nature Programme to investigate ecosystems that are invisibly moving gradually towards “tipping points” where they could rapidly collapse, no longer providing society with important services.

The research, led by Prof. Mark Reed from Newcastle University, will focus on bogs.  These important resources currently provide most of the UK’s drinking water and protect our climate by locking up carbon within the peat.  There is a danger that climate change and current land management practices may lead to rapid and costly loss of water quality and biodiversity, while contributing towards further climate change. The team wants to understand the economic, social and cultural costs of reaching these tipping points, versus the savings and ongoing value of avoiding them