National Committee of the United Kingdom

Acting Chair

Prof. Susan Page
University of Leicester
Department of Geography
University Road
Leicester LE1 7RH
UNITED KINGDOM
phone: +44 116 2523318
e-mail: sep5 (at) le.ac.uk

 

Secretary

Prof. Jack Rieley
The Pingle
1 Closes Side Lane
East Bridgford
Nottingham NG13 8NA
UNITED KINGDOM 
e-mail: jack.rieley (at) btinternet.com

Annual Report 2018

2018 was an important year for peatlands and peat not only in the UK but in Europe and the rest of the world. UK IPS members participated in numerous meetings, events and projects including:

  • 9th European Ramsar Meeting in Olomouc, Czech Republic
  • LIFE End of Project Conference on Humberhead Levels Peatlands in Doncaster
  • IUCN UK Programme Peatland Strategy Launch in York
  • IUCN UK Programme Annual Conference at Balloch, Loch Lomond, Scotland
  • Mires and Peat Editorial Board meeting in Leeds
  • Joint meeting of the Irish Peat Society and UK Peatland Society in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland on cross border peatlands.
  • Tropical Peatland Restoration Conference in Palangka Raya, Central Kalimantan, Indonesia, preceded by the Second Tropical Peatland Round Table that on Batam and Meranti Islands, Sumatra. Jack Rieley and Susan Page represented the IPS at these events.

But of course, the main event of the year was the IPS 50th Jubilee Congress that was held on the SS Rotterdam in Rotterdam Harbour in September preceded by a special Peat Summit meeting for our industry corporate members.

IPS UK Annual Subscriptions

Annual subscriptions were increased in 2017 to the following:
Individual members: £45; Corporate and institutional members: £150; Student members: £25

Most of the money raised from subscriptions is transferred to IPS in Finland to help maintain the Secretariat and its activities. A small amount from UK subscriptions is retained and put to good use for peatland projects in the UK. For the last four years we have contributed generously towards the Allan Robertson Grants for early career peatland scientists and managers and this year we also part-funded the first meeting of the Editors of the Scientific Journal Mires and Peat.

However, already we are suffering from consequences of Brexit, especially devaluation of the pound sterling by around 25% compared to its value against the Euro several years ago. This is having a major effect on the finances of the UK Peatland Society because we pay our annual subscription contribution to the IPS Secretariat in Finland in Euros. UK member subscriptions will be maintained at their current level for 2019 but if the exchange rate remains as it is or deteriorates further, they may need to be increased in 2020.

Restoring England’s largest lowland peatland – LIFE and Beyond

In 2014, funding was secured from the European Union's LIFE+ programme to help the restoration of the Humberhead Peatlands. The project, called That's LIFE – Restoring the Humberhead Peatlands was launched in July 2014 and continued until the end of June 2018. The project has extended the area of peat bog habitat under active restoration and provided a long-term future for the plants, birds and insects that have evolved to live on this unique wetland habitat and resulted in it being designated a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and a Special Protection Area (SPA). The project has also promoted research on and monitoring of the bog's unique bird and insect populations that will help inform similar restoration projects elsewhere.

Jack Rieley attended the End of Project Conference that was held in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, England in May 2018. This meeting was a celebration of everything that the project achieved, shared knowledge and best practice, and looked towards the future of bog restoration in Europe. The conference programme included presentations, workshops and site visits delivered by members of the LIFE+ Project team, project partners and bog restoration experts.

IUCN UK Peatland Programme launch of UK Peatland Strategy

The IUCN United Kingdom National Committee launched its new UK Peatland Strategy on 19th April 2018 at the Friargate Quaker Meeting House in York, England. This was followed by a reception in Grays Court Hotel, York. The event was attended by over 60 participants from many parts of the UK including Jack Rieley who represented the IPS.

The Workshop was introduced by Clifton Bain, Executive Director of the IUCN UK Peatland Programme and chaired by Rob Stoneman, Director of Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. After an introduction to the UK Peatland Strategy the meeting divided into six focus groups to discuss the major strategy goals and identify possible actions needed to implement them.

The IUCN UK Peatland Programme has developed the UK’s first collaborative Peatland Strategy to capture and embed, for the long term, a shared vision for UK peatlands, helping maintain a focus across a broad partnership and allowing progress to be marked and celebrated. It encompasses all peatlands in the United Kingdom and is also of relevance to the UK Overseas Territories. It sets the context for strategic peatland action plans of the devolved administrations of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Allan Robertson Grants awarded in 2018

The IPS received 17 applications for the Allan Robertson Grants 2018. The standard of all of them was very high. IPS Executive Board at its meeting in Vilnius, Lithuania in April 2018 awarded 8 grants of €500 each to the following:
 
-    Hui Zhang, China
-    Martha Ledger, United Kingdom
-    Jerome Blewett, United Kingdom
-    Henk Pieter Sterk, Netherlands
-    Jasmijn E. Sybenga, Netherlands
-    Kirsten Lees, United Kingdom
-    Danielle Rupp, USA
-    Elisa Männistö, Finland
 
New IPS Secretary General takes up his position on January 1st

The UK Peatland Society welcomes the appointment of the first full-time IPS Secretary General Dr Gilbert Ludwig who started his work on 1st January 2019. Dr Gilbert will spend his first year mostly travelling and getting to know our members, but also playing a major role in implementing the IPS Strategy 2016-2020, including cooperation with international conventions, bridging science and industry, improving communication and enhancing IPS' project management.
       
New Executive Board elected

At the IPS Annual Assembly held on SS Rotterdam in September 2018 Professor Jack Rieley of UK was re-elected as a member of the Executive Board for the period 2018-2022. Six ordinary members were elected by secret ballot out of nine candidates, among which are, for the first time in IPS history, three women.
 
Flow Country in the North of Scotland is a Candidate World Heritage Site

The Flow Country of Caithness and Sutherland in the north of Scotland occupies 4000 km2. This landscape is the best blanket bog habitat of its type anywhere in the world and has been on the UK’s list of potential World Heritage Sites since 2012. The background to this and the reasons why it should be designated are explained in a recent article by Joe Perry and Roxane Andersen in Peatlands International. Two technical evaluations were submitted to UNESCO in 2013 and 2015 and a third will be finished by the end of summer 2019. This will be sent to the UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and if accepted will be forwarded to UNESCO for decision.

Members of the IPS, its Executive Board and National Committees can support this proposal for World Heritage status by sending letters to Joe Perry, Project Coordinator, Flow Country World |heritage Site Working Group, Highland Council Offices, Drummuie, Golspie, Scotland, KW10 6TA, United Kingdom. DON’T DELAY!

Joint meeting of Irish Peatland Society and UK Peatland Society in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland

The Irish Peatland Society organised a joint meeting with the UK Peatland Society focussing on cross border peatlands between the Republic and Northern Ireland based in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh on 16th and 17th October.

The meeting commenced with a study visit to the Cuilcagh Legnabrocky Trail, Slieve Rushden peatland, followed by a tour of the Marble Arches cave system. This was followed by a seminar that covered the following topics: Marble Arch Geopark, Revision of the IPS Strategy for Responsible Peatland Management, Conservation Status of Peatlands in Northern Ireland, CANN and QUBBES projects, and Peatlands and Climate Change.

The invited speakers included:

  • Martina O’Neil (Marble Arches Geopark)
  • Jack rieley (UK Peatland Society)
  • Richard Wyle (Northern Ireland Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs)
  • Francis Mackin (QUBBES Project)
  • Trish Fox (CANN Project)

These presentations were followed by a question and discussion session.
It is hoped to organise a joint meeting of the Irish and UK Peatland Societies again soon. Suggestions are welcome.

England Peat Strategy Moves Forward

The UK Peatland Society (IPS) is a consultee to the preparation of the England Peat Strategy that is being coordinated by Judith Stuart, DEFRA Soils and Peatlands Policy Specialist.

The aim of the Strategy is that in 25 years all of England’s peatlands shall be functioning healthily for the needs of wildlife and people. It will be based on local partnerships reporting into local governance and national governance aligned with biodiversity and forestry strategies to ensure trade-offs are evaluated and managed. This approach will be tested in five pilot areas across England, working with Natural England and other stakeholders.

The Strategy will focus on lowland peat used for agriculture given that it is responsible for most of England’s greenhouse gas emissions from peatland. A Lowland Agricultural Peat Taskforce is being set up (as announced by the Secretary of State - https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/michael-gove-speech-on-uk-climate-change-projections) that will deliver recommendations for a new more sustainable future for agriculture on lowland peatlands in England

Mires and Peat Editors’ Meeting

Mires and Peat is a peer-reviewed free-access internet journal focusing specifically on mires, peatlands, and peat.  It is published jointly by the International Peatland Society (IPS) and the International Mire Conservation Group (IMCG). The first meeting of the Editors of Mires and Peat was held at the University of Leeds, UK in October 2018 sponsored by the UK Peatland Society. Ten of the 12 editors attended including Olivia Bragg, Editor-in-Chief and Jack Rieley, Deputy EIC. Richard Payne, an Associate Editor also attended.

Present: Andy Baird, University of Leeds; Olivia Bragg, University of Dundee; Frank Chambers, University of Gloucestershire; Dicky Clymo, Queen Mary University of London; Stephan Glatzel, University of Vienna; Bartek Glina, University of Poznan; Ab Grootjans, University of Groningen; Richard Payne, University of York; Jack Rieley, IPS and University of Nottingham; Katy Roucoux, University of St Andrews, David Wilson, Earthy Matters Consultants. Apologies: Jonathan Price, University of Waterloo

Aims of Meeting

  • To discuss the current situation of the journal with respect to use of the Online Journal System facility (OJS) provided by the University of St Andrews: Improvements to instructions for authors to include: example papers that have been done well, be more specific about what’s required, refer to the book by Dickie Clymo on how to write a scientific paper; importance of authors formatting own references; editing guide
  • Number of editors:If we identify new potential editors, send names to Olivia for approval
  • Future direction: Development of the journal; work towards improving quality; get informal help (e.g. proof-reading?)
  • Olivia Bragg’s role / succession / sustainability: Suggestions about how to ease the work load of Olivia: recruit more editors; editors be more willing to reject papers; be more self-reliant – editorial responsibilities now clearer.
  • Future editorial meetings

 

Annual Report 2017

As usual 2017 was a very busy year for peatlands and peat people in the UK. The increased attention being given to peatlands globally by national and regional governments, international conventions and international NGOs highlights their importance as carbon stores and mitigators of climate change processes. UK members of the IPS have been involved in many ways, contributing to the science of peatlands and their restoration.

Our UK IPS membership numbers continue to remain stable at around 40 with the few resignations being balanced by new applications for membership, mostly owing to student membership turnover. Please continue to try to convince colleagues and students of the advantage of IPS membership and the services the Society provides.

Most of the UK Peatland Society’s efforts in 2017 were focussed on the IPS Convention in Aberdeen.

Allan Robertson Grants

Once again, the UK Peatland Society was a driving force in raising money for the Allan Robertson Grants for young peatland researcher and managers. Allan’s family supports these financially, together with the IPS Executive Board and independent donations. In 2015, their first year, we awarded 5 grants but in 2016 owing to people’s generosity we were able to provide 15 awards to young scientists and professionals who attended the Kuching Congress.

In 2017 8 grants were given to a wide range of young peatland researchers in conjunction with the Aberdeen Convention. At the Convention Gala dinner held in Haddo House, Aberdeenshire we raised a magnificent €1000 (£865) from the participants at a fund raiser that was matched by generous contributions of another €1000 from several individuals. This is a great start for the 2018 Allan Robertson Grants.

IPS Convention, Aberdeen

The IPS Convention in 2017 was held in the Marriott Hotel Dyce, Aberdeen from 28-31 May, organised by the UK Peatland Society. The event that was entitled “Responsible Management of Peatlands” embraced the most recent scientific research, technical developments and practical activities on agriculture and forestry on peatland, responsible peat production and peatland restoration.

The Convention consisted of a ‘Brainstorming’ session on key peatland issues, a ‘Symposium with four Workshops’ on the importance and effects of different land uses on peatlands in different regions of the world and a special session on ‘Restoration of Tropical Peatland’ followed by ‘Focus Groups Action Planning’.

The Convention offered an excellent opportunity for scientists, policy makers, regulators and peatland and industry managers to meet, share and discuss current and emerging knowledge and experience on all aspects of peat and peatlands. The meeting presented the most recent scientific research, technical developments and practical activities related to agriculture and forestry on peatland, and responsible peat production. It also considered best practices for peatland after use including rewetting and revegetating to reinstate peat formation and provide economic and leisure possibilities.

155 Participants from 18 countries registered for the Convention. Of these 125 booked for the full four days while the rest attended on a daily basis. At the opening event on Monday 29th May we were honoured to have seven members of the Indonesian Parliament (Senators) in attendance.

Convention Programme

Sunday 28th May

The Convention commenced after lunch on Sunday 28th May with a ‘Brainstorming’ session on current and emerging issues relevant to the three new IPS Commissions - Peatlands and Environment, Peatlands and Economy and Peatlands and Society.

The Brainstorming started in a plenary session introduced by IPS 2nd Vice President Samu Valpola who explained the rationale behind recent organisational changes and invited participants to join in one of the Commission Expert Groups. This was followed by a status report on various IPS projects.

Following the plenary participants opted to join one of the three concurrent sessions - Economy, Environment and Economy all of which were well attended.

Monday 29th May

Opening

Brief speeches of welcome were given by Professor Susan Page, Convention Chair, Professor Jack Rieley, Chair of the Convention Organising Team, Gerald Schmilewski, IPS President and Professor Bjorn Hånell, Vice Chairman of IUFRO and past President of IPS. Susan Page read a message from Professor Juhani Päivänen, Honorary President of IPS who was unable to attend.

The Convention was formally opened by the Lord Provost of Aberdeen, Barney Crockett.
The opening was followed by five keynote presentations given by experts in a wide range of peatland expertise from different countries. These keynotes were related to the themes of the four workshops that commenced in the afternoon and the session on Restoration of Tropical Peatland that took place on Wednesday 31st May.  

Workshops

The Convention Symposium consisted of four concurrent Workshops each dealing with a major aspect of drained peatlands, followed by questions, answers and interactive participant involvement with special sessions on restoration of tropical peatland, peatland surveying and monitoring and Sphagnum farming.

Workshop A: Carbon management & monitoring
Facilitator: Dr Catherine O’Connell;
Rapporteur: Dr David Wilson

This was a constructive and informative session with a range of talks that covered
Carbon balances of several peatland land uses (e.g. arable, peat extraction and restoration)
Peatland management and monitoring

Workshop B: Forestry
Facilitators: Sakari Sarkkola and Bjorn Hånell;
Rapporteur: Russell Anderson

Peatland forestry is a business, carried out on organic soils, where lowering of the water table by drainage is a prerequisite. Forestry has been practiced for hundreds of years and only in Europe can we today find more than
10 M ha of peat-covered land drained for forestry purposes.

Workshop C: Responsible Peat Production
Facilitator: Jaakko Silpola; Rapporteur: Donal Clarke

This session covered a wide variety of uses of peatlands and dealt with how these uses can be achieved responsibly considering their environmental, economic and social impacts. The uses of peatlands that were considered in the presentations included, production of peat for energy, use of peat in the horticulture industry, development of integrated aquaculture and biomass production using duckweed, use of peat in the production of whisky, and peat moss cultivation (“sphagnum farming”) and sphagnum harvesting from peatlands drained for forestry.

Workshop D: Peatland Restoration and After Use
Facilitator: Roxane Andersen; Rapporteur: Mark McCorry

This session covered a wide range of topics, including restoration techniques, monitoring of water chemistry and greenhouse gases, site specific studies and the role of peatland restoration for conservation in Ireland. The discussion that followed highlighted several key points.

Social Programme

Several fantastic social events accompanied the scientific and technical programme of the Convention. This provided opportunity to meet old friends and make new ones.

Tuesday 30th May

Excursions

There was a choice of four different excursions on Tuesday 30th May to places of peatland, nature conservation, landscape, stately home and malt whisky interest. Each of these provided the opportunity to view the beautiful northern Scottish landscape and learn something of its history.

Gala Dinner

This was the highlight of the Convention. It was held on the evening of Tuesday 30th May in Haddo House, a stately home, located approximately 20 miles north of Aberdeen. The evening commenced with a piper welcoming the guests to a cocktail reception in the main house by kind invitation of the Chairman of the National Trust for Scotland Sir Moir Lockhead. Lord and Lady Aberdeen greeted the guests. Dinner was held in the banqueting suite with Scottish Music and dancers to entertain during the meal and a Scottish Ceilidh of dance, music and song for all to join in afterwards.

Wednesday 31st May

The final day of the Convention started with a special session on ‘Restoration of Tropical Peatlands’. This was followed by a plenary feedback from the four concurrent workshops that took place on Monday 29th May at which the four rapporteurs gave their reports which were followed by a general discussion and recommendations for future action.

The IPS Round Table of National Committees and the 2017 Annual Assembly took place after lunch. For those not involved in these business meetings there were additional side event meetings on Peatland Survey and Monitoring, Sphagnum farming and Round Table on Tropical Peatland.

Special Session on Tropical Peatlands and their Restoration

The Convention was privileged to have as participants several members of the Indonesia Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG), especially its Head Nazir Foead. This session highlighted the commitment of the Government of the Republic of Indonesia to protect remaining areas of natural peatland and restore 2 million hectares that has been degraded because of drainage, land conversion and fire.

Special meeting on peatland surveying and monitoring

This was organised by Andrew Sowter of Geomatic Ventures. The meeting discussed the results of a new satellite technique that is capable of measuring ground subsidence rates to millimetres precisions over peatland surfaces.  An overview of the method was presented, and two sets of results were discussed: one covering the complete area of mainland Scotland and another from an area of Johor, Malaysia.  

Special meeting on Sphagnum farming

This was a preparation meeting for the IPS Network project “Peat Moss Cultivation and Harvesting for Horticulture and Restoration (CultivMoss). About 15 people participated in the meeting, the main objective of which was to discuss the aims and challenges. Some general decisions and future actions were decided.

Tribute to members of the Convention Organising Team

The IPS Aberdeen Convention 2017 would not have been a success without the dedication and hard work of members of the small organizing team who met on several occasions before the Convention in Dundee and Aberdeen to plan and organize the meeting. They gave their time freely and without question. I am indebted to them:

Olivia Bragg, University of Dundee
Russell Anderson, Forest Research, Forestry Commission, Roslin
Roxane Andersen, University of the Highlands and Islands, Thurso
Steve Chapman, The Hutton Institute, Aberdeen
Neil Godsman, Northern Peat and Moss Company, Peterhead

Tribute to Sponsors of the Convention

Thanks, is expressed to the many corporate, institutional and business sponsors who provided money, goods and services and made the event not only possible but very successful.

 

Annual Report 2015

Last year was a very eventful one for peatlands and peat in the UK. The UK IPS membership remains constant at a solid 40. Only one member did not renewed their subscription for 2015 while we gained several new members. We have 10 student members also a number that remains constant as new students join to replace those who leave membership when they complete their degrees and move on to other things outside of peatland.

In this last year IPS members have been very busy attending various meetings and conferences. I am sure this applies to all of us. My own activities revolved around meetings of the IPS Executive Board that met in Geeste, Germany in January, Berlin, Germany in March, Tullamore, Ireland in June and Dusseldorf, Germany in November.

A major item at all of these meetings has been preparation and refinement of the IPS Strategic Plan 2016-2020. I also represented the IPS at two meetings in Amsterdam and Bremen of the Expert Panel of the ‘Responsibly Produced Peat’ Project (RPP). Several applications were validated and as a result three peat extraction sites were awarded certificates on the basis of their good practices that enhance biodiversity and minimise greenhouse gas emissions.

My year began when I was invited to contribute to a meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia organised by the Indonesian Committee on Climate Chance and USAid on the role of tropical peatlands in greenhouse gas emissions. This focussed on the impact of land use change and fire since emissions as a result of these are a major problem in that country. In April I attended the launch in Brussels of the IUCN Peatland Restoration Booklet that contains case studies some of which were carried out by IPS members in Canada, Ireland and UK. In October I attended, together with several other IPS members, the IUCN UK Peatland Programme Annual Meeting in Inverness, Scotland that was attended by some 150 participants discussing mostly about peatland restoration.

In November the National Trust and IPS UK sponsored a workshop on ‘Molinia’ that was held at Huddersfield Town Hall. This was very successful with about 100 participants. The meeting also provided the opportunity to hold the annual IPS UK (UK Peat Society) meeting which was attended by four members with apologies from another seven.

We now have three Honorary Members of the IPS in the UK. David Bellamy has been one for several years but this year he was joined by Dickie Clymo and Neil Godsman. Best wishes to them all.

Because the UK Peat Society membership remains consistent we were able once again to use our small financial surplus (after paying our affiliation fees to IPS centrally) to promote other IPS related activities. We gave £250 towards the National Trust Molinia Conference in Huddersfield and 1000€ towards the first year of the Allan Robertson Grants.

Managing Molinia Conference in Huddersfield: 14-16 September 2015
This conference that was organised by the National Trust with additional sponsorship provided by Natural England and the UK Peat Society (International Peatland Society) was attended by over 100 participants from across the UK and Ireland. The objective was to discuss the role of Molinia in this ecological niche and, where appropriate, suggest how the balance of plant cover might be shifted back to that favoured by conservation bodies. This conference focussed on uplands expected to have a cover of Eriophorum species, ericaceous shrubs and Sphagnum mosses.

A field excursion was held to part of the National Trust’s Marsden Moor Estate, which has a very large area of Molinia-dominated moorland, included Molinia grassland experimentally cut back several years ago and another location where Moors for the Future has experimented with various cutting and tussock removal treatments in combination with the addition of Sphagnum moss species as either fragments in gel beads. A volume containing the proceedings of this conference is being prepared.

Minutes of the UK Peat Society (IPS UK National Committee) AGM held on Monday 14th September 2015 in the Huddersfield Town Hall at 5pm.
The AGM was attended by four members with apologies from another seven.

The Meeting opened with an overview of the year’s activities given by the Secretary, Jack Rieley. He drew attention to the following:

  • The IPS annual convention was held in Tullamore, Ireland from 6-11 June.
  •  It was announced that Neil Godsman, former Chair of the UK Peat Society was made an Honorary Member of the IPS for his long service to the Society.
  • A Colloquy on the Peatlands Experience was held. This consisted of Master-classes, sessions designed to impart relevant knowledge and skills from experts to participants; interactive poster sessions at which the authors of some 30+ posters each made a five-minute presentation followed by questions and discussion; and ‘Fireside chats’ which combined discussion of different perspectives on peatland issues with enjoyable social occasions. The first five successful applicants for the Allan Robertson Grants were announced two of whom are from the UK.

The members of the UK Peat Society Executive Committee remain the same with the exception of Neil Godsman who resigned as Chairman. Susan Page, Vice Chairman, is acting Chairman until a replacement is found. The current officers of the UK Peat Society and its Executive Committee are:

Chair: Vacant
Vice/Acting Chair: Susan Page
Secretary/treasurer: Jack Rieley
England: Chris Turner
Northern Ireland: James Hayes
Scotland: Steve Chapman
Wales: Fred Slater
Internal Auditor: Richard Meade

JR presented the UK Peat Society accounts for 2014 and these have been audited by Roger Meade. The next meeting of the IPS UK National Committee is to be decided at a later date.

Allan Robertson Grants
In its first year five awards of 500 Euros each were made to five young applicants out of 33 received. This was a tremendous success that can be attributed to the generosity of Allan Robertson’s family and IPS members, especially those in the UK. Of the winner one was from each of England, Scotland, Ireland, Estonia and Indonesia. Please see www.peatlands.org/about-us/ allan-robertson-grants to read more on the winners of the 2015 grants and obtain some background information. The money for the 2016 grants has already been secured but more is being sought through the Allan Robertson Grants Appeal to provide as many additional grants as possible.

IPS Annual Assembly and Convention 2017 in Scotland
The IPS Executive Board, at its meeting in Düsseldorf in November 2015 accepted the offer of the UK Peat Society to host the Annual Assembly and Convention in 2017 in Scotland with the likely location in or near to Aberdeen or Inverness. The tentative date is 28th May (Sunday) to 1st June (Thursday) and it is intended to follow the model for this event established by the Irish National Committee in the excellent event in Tullamore in June 2015. Formal IPS meetings of Executive Board, Scientific Advisory Board and Commissions/Expert Groups will be held on Sunday 28th May followed by three days of keynotes, panel discussion, poster presentation, site visits and enjoyment.

The Theme for this meeting has not yet been decided but possibilities are “Peatland Rewetting – How Mitigating is it?” or “Peatlands and Climate Change – Do they contribute or will they be affected?” Other suggestions are welcome at this stage.

The Northern Peat Moss Company and the Hutton Institute have expressed interest in supporting the meeting and other partners and sponsors will be sought. For example it is hoped that the Scottish Whisky industry will give its support and host a visit to a Malt Whisky distillery. It is also hoped that other organisations with interests in UK peatland will co-operate and attend, including IMCG, IUCN Peatland Programme, Scottish Wildlife Trust, John Muir Trust, RSPB and the Scottish Government.

A steering committee will be formed to oversee arrangements leading to the establishment of an organising committee soon after. If you wish to offer your services to help make this event a major success please contact me at jack.rieley@btinternet.com .

Annual Report 2014

Another year reaches its end and it has been a very busy one for peatlands and peat with numerous meetings of various kinds. My year began when I was invited to contribute to a meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia organised by the Indonesian Committee on Climate Chance and USAid on the role of tropical peatlands in greenhouse gas emissions. This focussed on the impact of land use change and fire since emissions as a result of these are a major problem in that country.

In April I attended the launch in Brussels of the IUCN Peatland Restoration Booklet that contains case studies some of which were carried out by IPS members in Canada, Ireland and UK. In October I attended, together with several other IPS members, the IUCN UK Peatland Programme Annual Meeting in Inverness, Scotland that was attended by some 150 participants discussing mostly about peatland restoration.

UK Membership of IPS has remained constant this year thanks to the continued faithful support of most members. Once again we lost only a few members, mostly students whose courses finished and they moved on but these were replaced by an almost equal number of new student members.

Whilst we have gained some individual members, corporate and institutional members have remained constant. Corporate and institutional members are entitled to name up to six of their employees to become members of IPS and receive information, Peat News, Peatlands International and obtain discounts to attend IPS conferences.

It was with great sadness that the UK Peat Society noted the passing of Allan Robertson at the beginning of the year. Allan was a founder member of the IPS in 1968, Honorary President since 1996 and Chairman of the UK Peat Society for many years. For the last few years he was resident in a care home in his native Helensburgh. His funeral in Cardross, north of Glasgow, in the middle of February was a very touching event with attendance of family, friends and former colleagues of the Macaulay Institute in Aberdeen. I represented his many colleagues and friends the IPS.

In 2014 the UK Peat Society co-sponsored two conferences, contributing £250 towards each of them. The first was the Flow Country ‘Looking Forward’ meeting that was held in Thurso, Scotland at the beginning of March with an associated field visit. The second was the ‘In the Bog’ conference in Sheffield, England at the beginning of September organised by Ian Rotherham. This was a fascinating mixture of peatland science, culture, management and artefacts.

IPS Award of Excellence to Professor RS Clymo

The 2014 Award of Excellence of the International Peat Society (Scroll and €1000) was presented to Professor Richard “Dicky” Clymo at the IPS Symposium Gala Dinner in Riga on 28 August. Professor Jack Rieley, Chair of the IPS Scientific Advisory Board and Secretary of the UK Peat Society, stated in his nomination: “Professor Clymo is one of the best known and most prestigious peatland scientists of our time. His career spans some 50 years of which he has been a member of IPS for 40 years. He has published widely on many aspects of peatlands and peat in international scientific journals and contributed to numerous books and other publications. His scientific publications have received more citations (almost 7,000) than anyone else I know. His contribution to peatland and peat ecology and science is inestimable and virtually every other peatland scientist has read his papers and cited them in their work.”

Allan Robertson Grants

In Allan’s memory, following discussion with his family and at the instigation of the UK Peat Society, IPS Executive Board at its meeting in Groningen in March 2014 decided to launch a new awards scheme in memory of Allan Robertson to be called the Allan Robertson Grants. These will focus on younger peatland and peat scientists, managers and practitioners in the early stages of their careers. The grants will consist of scrolls and monetary prizes. The first grants will be presented in 2015 and will replace the IPS Award of Excellence that has been offered for the last ten years. IPS Executive Board will initially make available the €1000 from the Award of Excellence and Allan’s immediate family will contribute a matching €1000. At its annual meeting held in Sheffield in September 2014 the UK Peat Society decided to contribute €500 towards the Allan Robertson Grants in their first year. IPS will launch an appeal to its membership and stakeholders for continuation funding of these new awards.

UK Peat Society Annual Meeting

The Annual Meeting of the UK Peat Society (IPS UK National Committee) was held at the Sheffield Showroom and Workstation on Thursday 4th September 2014 in association with the ‘In the Bog Conference’. It was attended by six members with apologies received from 8 others. Neil Godsman stepped down as Chair of the Society and until he is replaced his duties will be carried out by the Vice Chair Professor Susan Page.

The accounts for 2013 that were audited by Roger Meade were accepted. Although the AGM had a small turnout we had a useful discussion about what the UKPS should be doing in the future. The minutes of the meeting have been distributed to members. The following officers and ordinary members of the Executive Committee remain in office until 2016.

Volunteers for the position of chair are welcomed:

Chair: Vacant
Vice Chair: Susan Page
Secretary/treasurer: Jack Rieley
England: Chris Turner
Northern Ireland: James Hayes
Scotland: Steve Chapman
Wales: Fred Slater
Internal Auditor: Richard Meade

Events in 2015

This coming year looks to be another busy and exciting one with several conferences, workshops and other events already in the pipeline.

Notable is the IPS Convention and Annual Assembly 2015 that will be held in Tullamore, Ireland on 7-11 June with an exciting meeting entitled “A New Conversation on Peatlands”. The Irish Peat Society invites members of the UK Peat Society to come across the Irish Sea and join in this event of significance to peatlands and peat.

The World Congress of the Society for Ecological Restoration (SER2015) will be held in Manchester on
23-27 August, which many IPS members are expected to attend.

A workshop on ‘Molinia Management’ on upland peat in the UK will be held in Huddersfield on 14 - 16 September organised by the National Trust. The workshop is sponsored by the National Trust, Natural England and UK Peat Society (International Peat Society). Further information can be obtained from www.nationaltrust.org.uk/marsdenmoor.

The date and venue for this year’s UK Peat Society Annual Meeting have not yet been decided but it should take place in September.

For more information on the IPS National Committees see:
www.peatsociety.org/about-us/national-committees.

Annual Report 2013

UK Membership of IPS is the highest it has been for many years thanks to the continued faithful support of most members. More than 90% of those who were members in 2012 paid their subscription for this year. We gained six new members and lost only three, mostly students whose courses finished and they moved on. We welcome Westland Horticulture Ltd as our newest corporate member. They have taken advantage of the multiple benefits of corporate membership by naming six of their staff to receive Peat News and Peatlands International.

Thanks to the prompt payment of subscriptions and the increase in membership the UK Peat Society was able to contribute £500 towards the costs of the ”War and Peat” conference that was organised by the Landscape History Research Institute of Hallam University, Sheffield (Dr Ian Rotherham) on 4-6 September 2013. This meeting was attended by some 70 participants who listened attentively to 14 presentations and contributed to poster sessions and discussions.

The meeting began with an afternoon visit to Burbage and Houndkirk Moors in the Dark Peak of Derbyshire close to Sheffield that were used for military training in both World Wars. In WWI large numbers of soldiers were located there prior to being sent to the Front. During WWII decoy buildings and armaments were constructed on these moors to draw German bombers away from Sheffield.

The oral presentations provided much detailed information on the role of peatlands and moorlands in military campaigns from the middle ages up to WWII including the billeting of tens of thousands of soldiers on Cannock Chase in WWI to practice trench warfare. The Battle of Northampton (Wars of the Roses) and the River Nene and the role of wetland in determining the victor was the subject of an exciting presentation. Information was not confined only to England but there were presentations about the Falklands War, bogs in the 17th Century Dutch Republic and the military heritage of St. Helena. Other speakers dealt with military environmentalism on Ministry of Defence estates, role of warfare in early modern Europe, impact of military activity on peatland landscapes, ecology and archaeology and an account of modern conflicts between conservation and peat industry on Thorne Moors.

The UK Peat Society AGM was held in the Sheffield Showroom and Workstation on Thursday 5th September 2013. It was attended by six members with 8 apologies. The minutes of the meeting have been distributed to members. The following officers and ordinary members of the Executive Committee were elected:

Chair: Neil Godsman
Vice Chair: Susan Page
Secretary/treasurer: Jack Rieley
England: Chris Turner
Northern Ireland: James Hayes
Scotland: Steve Chapman
Wales: Fred Slater
Internal Auditor: Richard Meade

The secretary/treasurer presented the balance sheet and statement of accounts for the year ending 31st December 2012 which was accepted subject to scrutiny by Roger Meade the internal auditor. It was agreed to contribute £500 to the Flow Country Conference that will be held in Thurso on 4-7 March 2014. Similarly, £500 was allocated towards the cost of organising the ‘In the Bog’ conference in Sheffield on 3-5 September 2014 when we shall also hold the next AGM. It was decided to continue discussions with the International Mire Research Group (UK) and the British Ecological Society Peatlands Interest Group (PRIG) for joint activities and other forms of co-operation. The secretary reported that David Bellamy had been made an Honorary Member of IPS and we expressed our congratulations and best wishes to him.

Two prominent UK members of IPS received honours during the year. The Executive Board of the IPS granted Honorary Membership of the Society to Professor David Bellamy. David is a very significant and memorable person in peatland science and public life who has contributed massively to peatland conservation, education and management over the last 50 years. He is known as a prominent university professor, botanist, author, broadcaster and environmental campaigner. He has written and presented some 400 television programmes on botany, ecology and environment. His academic and research achievements include research on the peatlands of Europe from Iceland to the Mediterranean on which he published over 80 scientific papers and supervised more than 36 Ph.D. students. In addition he launched several conservation awards and programmes. David became a lecturer in Botany at the University of Durham in 1960 and was Senior Lecturer from 1968 until 1982, now being their Honorary Professor for Adult and Continuing Education. He has been a member of the International Peat Society since it was established in 1968, and was a principal keynote speaker at the Tullamore International Peat Congress in 2008.

Professor Susan Page, Professor and Head of the Department of Geography at the University of Leicester, UK and a member of IPS for many years was awarded the Busk Medal 2013 by the Royal Geographical Society for her work on conservation research on tropical peatland in Indonesia. The Medal was presented at the Society’s Medals and Awards celebrations on Monday 3 June 2013, hosted by the RGS President Professor Judith Rees. The interest in peatlands and peat in the UK is very high, especially in the fields of climate change and restoration. These activities involve a large number of peatland scientists and land managers many of whom are members of IPS. IUCN UK Committee has played a major role in coordinating peatland restoration activities and disseminating information through meetings and publications.

The Mires Research Group of the British Ecological Society (MRG) of which several IPS members are founders has been renamed the Peatland Research Interest Group (PRIG) and is becoming more active. A meeting was held to discuss future collaboration between these groups in Sheffield in May 2013 attended by Jack Rieley (IPS), Ian Rotherham (PRIG), Olivia Bragg (IMCG) and Rob Stoneman (IUCNUK). The group discussed current and emerging issues affecting peatlands in the UK and their responsible management, protection and restoration. Possibilities for future collaboration are being investigated.

Annual Report 2012

Membership is showing a welcome increase, especially of student members. At the end of 2011, I reported that membership had held steady, losing 4 and gaining 6. I am now pleased to say that, at the end of 2012, membership is the highest it has been for years, gaining 13 new members and losing only 2. Most of the new members are research students and this gives great hope for the future. In addition we also gained three new corporate members from the peat and growing media industries and two institutional members.

The other good news is that our financial situation has also improved, partly because of the increase in membership fees last year but also owing to the increase in the number of members. Corporate members with their higher fees are especially important in this respect. We have been able to pay the 2012 affiliation fee to IPS International early and still retain a small surplus. If membership can be maintained or increased, membership fees should remain at the current rate for some time and we can also start to plan to hold a meeting of members in order to place the administration of the UK Peat Society on a better and more sustainable footing. We need a new Chairman to replace Allan Robertson who is in a nursing home in Helensburgh, Scotland and unable to continue. In the meantime, Neil Godsman is acting Chairman but doesn’t wish to occupy the post permanently. As soon as we can arrange a meeting, ideally one that can become an annual event, we can elect officers and a new committee.

What follows are some current news items and information on a range of peat and peatland issues that have been of interest to UK members of IPS during 2012 or are planned for 2013.

Opportunities for joint meetings with IUCN/PRG/IMCG

The interest in peatlands and peat in the UK is very high, especially in the fields of climate change and restoration. These activities involve a large number of peatland scientists and land managers many of whom are members of IPS. IUCN UK Committee has played a major role in coordinating peatland restoration activities and disseminating information through meetings and publications. The Mires Research Group of the British Ecological Society (MRG) of which several IPS members are founders has been renamed the Peatland Research Interest Group (PRIG) and is becoming more active. It would seem appropriate to hold a meeting jointly with these UK Peatland groups and interests at which important and emerging issues can be discussed affecting peatlands in the UK and proposals made for their responsible management, protection and restoration. Possibilities for this collaboration are being investigated.

Peatland ecosystem goods and services

A Workshop on Ecosystem Goods and Services of Peatlands was held at the Joint British Ecological Society and IUCN UK Peatland Programme Symposium 2012 (Investing in Peatlands - Demonstrating Success) in Bangor, Wales on 26 - 28 June 2012. At this workshop the possibility of a joint session between IPS and IUCN on protection and restoration of tropical peatlands was mooted to be held at the 15th International Peat Congress in Kuching, Sarawak in August 2016; this suggestion is being investigated.

Meeting of the Irish Peat Society

Jack Rieley attended the Annual Meeting of the Irish Peat Society that was held in Westport, County Mayo on 15 - 17 October 2012. This consisted of a business meeting, study tour and seminar. The study tour started at Ballycroy National Park visitor centre with a talk on the park by Denis Strong and then went on to Strahduggan to visit a typical West of Ireland blanket bog. Lunch was provided at the Bellacorick offices of Bord na Mona. In the afternoon, an overview was given of the Oweninny peatland rehabilitation (following peat excavation for energy generation) scheme, wind farm project and Sphagnum regeneration. The tour ended with an introduction to and discussion on the Coillte Wilderness Project. The Irish Peat Society aims to bring together organisations (including Government bodies, academic institutions, NGOs and forest, peat and energy companies) and individuals with an interest in peatlands and peat.

IPS Strategic Plan

Following the resolution accepted at the end of the 14th International Peat Congress in Stockholm in June 2016, the Executive Board of IPS has commenced a detailed appraisal and revision of the Society’s Strategic Plan, Business Plan, operating structures and administrative procedures. The aim is to focus on peatland and peat issues of major importance during this quadrennium until 2016 and how to deal with emerging issues.

It is also intended to increase the effectiveness of IPS at national and international levels and improve services to members and others. The process commenced at a special Executive Board meeting in Amsterdam on 25 - 27 January 2013 where draft proposals were prepared for discussion with IPS members and peatland and peat stakeholders. The UK National Committee will take part in this consultation process. The new strategic plan will be adopted at the IPS Annual Assembly in Leiden, Netherlands in June 2013.

War and Peat Conference, Sheffield, 4 - 6 September 2013

Thanks to the prompt payment of subscriptions and the current increase in membership the UK Peat Society generated a small surplus in 2012 and we are able to co-sponsor a conference for the first time since “Peatlands, Ecosystems and Man: An Impact Assessment” in 1988! This was organised at the University of Dundee jointly by the British Ecological Society and International Peat Society. The Proceedings was edited by Olivia Bragg, Peter Hulme, Hugh Ingram and Allan Robertson and at least 10 of the current UK members of IPS attended and contributed to that important conference 25 years ago!

We are contributing £500 towards the costs of the “War and Peat” conference that is being organised by the Landscape History Research Institute of Hallam University, Sheffield (Dr Ian Rotherham) on 4 - 6 September 2013. Not only will this provide the opportunity to learn about fascinating aspects of upland moors, heaths, bogs and fens but it will enable us to hold the first business meeting of UK members of IPS for many years. Although the topic of the meeting may not be within our usual research interests the chance to meet with a range of peatland and peat interests and discuss future activities of IPS should not be missed. I hope as many as possible of you will attend.

The IPS UK contribution brings with it certain privileges for our members in reduced attendance fees for the ‘War and Peat’ meeting. They will be entitled to enrol at the reduced rate of £45 per day or £125 for the three days. Student and retired members can register for only £25 per day. A business meeting for IPS members is being planned for Thursday 5th September 2013.

Annual Report 2011

UK IPS membership through the UK Peat Society has remained stable during this year. We lost a few members through retirement but gained a some to compensate. We maintained a good mix of individual and corporate members. A positive sign is that several peat extraction and growing media companies are showing an interest in joining.

It is with some sadness that we report that Allan Robertson, Chairman of the UK Peat Society and Honorary President of IPS is now in a care home in Helensburgh, Scotland following deterioration of his health. He is now his 80’s and we wish him well. Until Allan’s situation becomes clear Neil Godsman has agreed to be Acting Chairman of the UKPS.

Again it was not possible to hold a face to face meeting of members this year owing to lack of interest and absence of another meeting onto which we could have grafted ours. We communicated by Email.

It has been a busy year responding to the activities of the DEFRA Task Force on phasing out the use of peat in England. The detail of this was published in Peatlands International Issue 1/2011 in ’An Appraisal of the UK DEFRA Consultation’.

IPS UK jointly sponsored a conference at Stockbridge Technology Centre, near York on 4th October 2011 on the topic ’Can Quality Plants be Grown without Peat? It was attended by almost 100 growers and horticulturists. Jack Rieley, Hein Boon and Gerald Schmilewski gave presentations. A follow up conference was held at the same venue on 16th Febrary 2012 specifically for amateur gareners who are the principal users of peat-based composts and plants in the UK. This was attended by more than 80 participants and Jack Rieley gave a short talk on the impact of peat extraction on biodiversity and greenhouse gas emissions. A panel discussion revealed that gardeners were not being informed of the true facts about the extraction and use of peat in horticulture.

Peat and peatlands have been in focus again in the UK during the last year with the IUCN Peatland Programme holding a conference in Stirling on 20-22 June 2011. They have scheduled a follow up conference jointly with the British Ecological Socieety in Bangor University, Wales on 26-28 June 2012 on the topic ’Investing in Peatlands – Demonstrating Success’.

Jack Rieley
Secretary/treasurer UK Peat Society
UK National Committee of IPS

Annual Report 2010

Again, this year’s activities have focussed on consolidating the UK IPS membership through the UK Peat Society. We lost some members through retirement but gained a few to compensate.  We maintain a mix of individual and corporate members.

It was not possible to hold a meeting of members this year owing to lack of interest and absence of another meeting onto which we could have grafted ours.

Peat and peatlands have been in focus in the UK during the last year with the IUCN Peatland Programme conference in Durham on ”Investing in Peatlands: the Climate Challenge”that was  attended by 250 peatland scientists and managers.

The IUCN UK Committee is holding their next conference in Stirling on 20-22 June 2011 and if possible a meeting of the UK Peat Society will be held there.

The new UK Government Natural Environment Minister, Richard Benyon, has called for the elimination of peat from the amateur gardeners market by 2020 and its use by all gardeners, growers and procurers by 2030. This was the policy of the previous Government.

This UK Government has opened consultation on proposals for a new policy to reduce the horticultural use of peat in England. This ends on 11th March 2011. More information can be found at: www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/consult/peat/index.htm.

Annual Report 2009

Most of this year’s activities have been focussed on consolidating the UK Peat Society that was formed at the IPS Convention in Belfast last April. Membership has now risen back near to what it was at the peak of five years ago. We now have a good mix of individual and corporate members.

Since the successful IPS Convention and Seminar at Belfast a year ago activity has been low.

If sufficient UK members attend the 2010 Convention in Jyväskylä, Finland in June we shall hold a meeting of the UK Peat Society.

In the meantime we are looking to other opportunities in the UK to meet and discuss future activities.

Annual Report 2008

Most of this year’s activities have been focused on re-establishing the UK National Committee and consolidating its membership. The Secretary for many years resigned without handing over any of the membership or financial information and as an interim measure the IPS Executive Board at its meeting in Jyväskylä, Finland in November 2008 appointed Jack Rieley as Secretary/Treasurer and Allan Robertson as Chairman to run the affairs of the NC until a meeting of members can be held to elect officers and Executive Committee members.

It has taken almost 9 months to gain access to the bank account and transfer the mandate to the interim Chairman and Secretary/Treasurer. This has now been accomplished but the financial situation is poor because membership fees have not been collected from many members for several years. Members have been informed and they are mostly very supportive. Things are now being placed on a more efficient footing and plans are being made for future meetings and events.

Individual members are mostly renewing their subscriptions and even paying some arrears of fees but unfortunately, we seem to have lost contact with a number of our corporate industry members who were allied to the IPS through the Peat Producers Association of the UK and Ireland until its demise around 2004. All have been contacted and a few have now paid subscriptions for 2009 but others have not responded to frequent E-mails and information sent to them. I hope this will change over the next few months.

In our attempts to regroup and reactivate the UKNC we have taken on the organization of the IPS 2009 Convention in Belfast, Northern Ireland on 24 - 26 April and especially the seminar, workshop and excursion that are being held jointly with the Irish Peat Society. We are already ensured of a large audience for the seminar/workshop and a full excursion bus. In Belfast we shall also hold the AGM of the UKNC, elect office bearers and committee and make plans for the future. On the agenda is an exciting proposal to formally re-establish the UK National Committee of IPS as a platform to coordinate all those in the UK with interests in peat and peatlands. We intend to go from strength to strength.