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Issued:13/08/14

The future of the UK's peatland landscapes is to be discussed at a major conference held at Sheffield Hallam University next month.

Environmental experts from across the country will gather to discuss solutions to safeguarding, conserving and restoring our heaths, moors, bogs, fens and commons as well as examining the ecologies, heritage, histories and functions of peat bogs across the world.

The 'In the Bog' conference, led by Ian Rotherham, Sheffield Hallam's professor of environmental geography, will address key findings in peatland research from restoration for landscape and ecosystem functions to the neglected histories and heritage of the bogs.

Peat landscapes cover nearly 3% of the Earth’s surface and are an important carbon storage tool that prevents the release of CO2 into the atmosphere. Peatlands also help to manage the quality of our water and the reduction of flood risk.

However, the amount of carbon-rich biomass contained by peat means it can be dried and burnt as a fuel, which makes it an important energy source in some countries.

Professor Rotherham said: "Our peatlands are under threat from cultivation, agricultural improvement, afforestation, drainage, burning, overgrazing, abandonment and extraction of peat for use as a growing medium or for fuel. Many of these practices dry out the peat, allowing it to decay, and the destruction of peat bogs contributes to global warming as well as destroying important habitats.

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"We want to utilise all the expertise and resources we have to identify how to maintain our peatlands and protect ourselves from global warming and in order to do this, we need to understand their history, ecology and archaeology which is what we hope to achieve during this conference."

Ian further explores the nature of the global environmental crisis in his latest text book, 'Eco-history: An introduction to biodiversity and conservation' by focusing on the way in which human interaction with nature has influenced the state of British countryside today. The book is written around a unique 1000-year historical timeline of human history, conservation and biodiversity in Britain and is ideal for teachers, students, and those wanting to know more about the environment in crisis.

For more information about Ian's book or to reserve a place at the conference taking place from 3-5 September at Sheffield Hallam University, visit www.ukeconet.org

For press information: contact Sarah Duce in the Sheffield Hallam University press office on 0114 225 4025 or email pressoffice@shu.ac.uk