Source: Alex Falkingham

The partnership will initially focus on RSPB-owned peatland in Scotland and Wales

Co-op and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) have joined forces in a UK supermarket first to protect nature’s carbon ‘stores’ through peatland restoration.

Announcing a three-year partnership today (9 June), it will initially focus on RSPB-owned peatlands in Scotland and Wales, which are equivalent in size to around 400 football pitches, bringing vital peatland back into good condition to reduce carbon loss and help tackle the climate and environment crisis.

With additional support from National Peatland Action Programme in Wales and Peatland Action in Scotland,the projects will also deliver environmental benefits including the protection of natural habitats for wildlife, potentially improving water quality, and reducing flood risk by regulating water flow.  

The tie-up comes as the IUCN UK Peatland Programme found that in the UK alone, an estimated 3.2 billion tonnes of carbon are stored in peatlands, and it is believed that without any intervention to repair and preserve them, with almost 80% of UK peatland degraded, their greenhouse gas emissions could exceed the equivalent of 20 million tonnes of carbon dioxide each year. 

“We are in the grip of a climate and environment emergency, a crisis of humankind’s making, and around the world we are seeing shocking water shortages, floods, extreme heat and biodiversity losses,” said Co-op director of sustainability, technical and agriculture Guy Stuart.

“It’s widely acknowledged that decarbonisation needs to speed up, and through co-operation of the global community we can work together to reduce carbon at a faster rate.

“Our pioneering partnership with the RSPB will play a part in helping to avoid carbon emissions through repairing vital peatlands to increase carbon stores, and support our work to prioritise action where we are able to make the most impact.”

RSPB executive director for income and conservation investment Rebecca Munro said: “For us to have any chance of averting the climate crisis we need to be working far more closely with nature, to use the solutions it offers to help lock up carbon whilst also delivering for birds and other wildlife.

“Businesses have a vital role to play in the transition to net zero and we are excited to be working with Co-op to protect and restore some of our most precious upland sites to make sure these places are delivering for our climate whilst also providing a lasting home for our wildlife.”