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It's a funny thing as a person who thinks in what could be described as an obsessive amount about peatlands to attend an event called GLF Peatlands 2024: The Climate Solution We Forgot. A lot of the work RE-PEAT has been doing over the past 4 years has been trying to raise the profile and appreciation of peatlands in the context of the climate and ecological crisis. Simultaneously, we work to try and expand and deepen our relationships with peatlands and move beyond the language of “nature based solutions” and “ecosystem services”. 

It's a tough ask at times. 

Luckily there’s a lesson here from peatlands, on being both (land and water, death and life, why not?) and on operating on different scales (for them, the very slooow building up layer-by-layer and the quicker shifts of the seasons; for us, the immediate work needed to respond to the crises next to the slow dismantling of the conditions that got us here in the first place). 

No matter how much time you spend thinking about peatlands, it's probably always worth hearing again that rewetting can never be the same as simply not degrading, that rewetting never fully restores peatlands to their old selves, and that it takes a long long time for the same presence and diversity of creatures to return - if they ever do. 

This was a strong message coming out of the GLF Peatlands 2024 event.

Let's say that again then, rewetting is never the same as never degrading, rewetting never fully restores peatlands to their old selves.

This message came up repeatedly at GLF Peatlands 2024, which is really exciting and encouraging. But it does make you wonder, why then, next to all of the efforts, research, and funding going into restoration are we continuously undermining that with creating more peatland to restore later? Or in other words, why is there so much degradation still going on?

In my slot on the final panel, Landscape of the Peat: Inclusive Management Solutions, I was asked about the role of youth activism. It’s quite clear over the past years that youth has been one of the strongest voices pushing for genuine solutions, for ambitious action, for connecting crises to one another and pushing for system change. In many ways halting degradation of peatlands requires more fundamental societal shifts, getting to the thorny questions of extraction and industry. In the context of this, the strong voice of youth calling for action on climate and system change, is very much needed. 

RE-PEAT has been working in this space for several years now and has recently launched a new campaign, Peatland Justice, to call for action for peatlands. This signals an addition to our other work, thinking about more time-bound, actionable campaigns laying down the changes we believe we need to see. This sits

alongside our ongoing work of rebuilding our relationships with peatlands and learning from these ecosystems. The name Peatland Justice draws from other climate and environmental justice movements, and explicitly works to link social and environmental needs. 

Our first campaign delves into trade and finance. Our goals are to:

  • Phase out and ban the trade of horticultural peat products in Europe, focusing on the retail sector

  • Push for a just transition for peatlands and communities, focusing on how peatland restoration and conservation can be financed in a way that serves people and peatland

We are striving to make the campaign participatory, with a large focus on engaging other youth. We recently held a series of focus groups at universities to chat about this topic with young people. There will also be workshops which help to co-create an interactive deep map which visualises the peat trade alongside other relationships and stories about peatlands. 

You can follow more about this campaign on our Instagram, newsletter, and website

To read more about GLF, visit their website. You can watch back the sessions from GLF Peatlands 2024: The Climate Solution We Forgot here

Thanks for reading!

Bethany Copsey, Peatland Justice Co-coordinator


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