A carbon sink like no other: Wetlands

Most people reading this will be aware of the important job wetlands play in conserving animals and plants. However, did you know that wetlands can also store vast amounts of carbon?

What are wetlands?

Wetland habitats make up an estimated seven per cent of the earth’s surface (Resource Watch). And it is believed that 40 per cent of the world’s plants and animals are reliant on these wetlands.

40% of the world’s plants and animals rely on wetland habitats (WWT)

Wetlands also have a crucial role to play when it comes to reducing the levels of carbon due to their ability to absorb pollutants. They are fantastic at storing carbon. Peatlands can store twice as much carbon as all the world’s forests. However, they are disappearing at an alarming rate. A staggering 64 per cent of the world’s wetlands have disappeared since 1900. However, shooting can help reverse this decline.

64% of the world’s wetlands have disappeared since 1900 (Ramsar)

The role of the wildfowlers in wetland restoration

Wildfowlers are prime examples of how shooting interests can help reverse the decline of wetland areas in the UK. They are thought to actively sustain around 50,000 acres of wetland habitat and have invested more than £3m to secure declining coastland wetland habitats.

Wildfowlers have invested more than £3m to secure declining coastland wetland habitats (BASC)

Just one example of the wildfowlers’ active work in helping to reverse the decline of wetlands is the fantastic project of the Barton on Humber Wildfowlers. In 2017, the club secured £100,000 loan from The Wildlife Habitat Charitable Trust (WHCT) and used the money to create a 16-acre wetland habitat from previous arable farmland on the Humber Estuary.

This project is also great news for those worried about carbon emissions. Healthy wetlands work as a carbon sink. In comparison, arable grasslands, often grown on natural wetland habitats, are considerably modified due to drainage, cultivation, and other modifications to produce crops. These changes can lead to carbon loss and relatively low carbon stocks being held in agricultural topsoil in comparison to other habitats (Natural England).

Peatlands can store twice as much carbon as all the world’s forests (UNEP)

Working together for a brighter future

There are other organisations who focus on restoring and creating new wetlands. The WWT is one such example. They have recently started a movement to create 100,000 hectares of healthy wetlands (WWT). This project can only be achieved through collaboration with others and working towards common goals. Big goals need to be met to repair the damage that has been done in the past. And we can only fix things by working together.