Role of Nature
Natural environments play an important role in the global greenhouse gas cycle through the removal and storage of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. The Isle of Man Government has recognised that to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, a long-term programme of land use management for carbon sequestration will be required.
Nature and biodiversity, through ecosystems services, provide an abundance of benefits to human life as we know it. However, both natural resources and biodiversity are disappearing at an alarming rate, even in the United Kingdom.
Regardless of global agreements (such as the Convention on Biological Diversity) attempts to prevent and reverse these losses are failing as countless species continue to be pushed to the brink of extinction. To achieve the global climate commitments in keeping temperature increase below 2°C, reversing the loss of nature and biodiversity is critical.
Protection and restoration of ecosystems and biodiversity are now acknowledged as key elements for climate action, supporting both emissions removals and also adaptation and resilience. Embedding ecosystems and biodiversity in our climate action plan will help us reach our net zero target and bring diverse co-benefits. Evidence of the Islands commitment to address this issue can be seen in the work currently being undertaken.
1. Peatland Restoration
Due to their capacity to sequester and store carbon peatlands have the potential to contribute significantly to the Isle of Man’s net-zero emissions goal. This initial project aims to restore the natural function of 1000 acres of peatland.
By focussing restoration efforts on the most degraded sites, areas that are currently a source of GHG emissions, these areas will eventually become carbon sinks. The restoration site, located in the catchment area of the Sulby Reservoir, will also provide an unseen water regulation function with considerable direct value to the Islands water security and lead to rainwater being stored and gradually released mitigating flood risk.
2. Keyll yn Phobble (People's Wood)
Establishing a predominantly native mixed woodland of 75,000 trees, has been one of the flagship nature-based projects of the Islands’ Phase 1 Action Plan.
The woodland, located at Meary Veg on a site covering 46ha, will deliver numerous benefits during growth and upon maturity, these include:
- increased carbon sequestration
- increased biodiversity
- reduced surface water flow
- increased recreational opportunities.
An additional woodland planting project is in development and due to be planted by early 2022.
Incentives for further tree planting on both agricultural land and private land have been agreed in the Agricultural Development Scheme and Woodland Grant Scheme respectively, both schemes offer financial support for the planting of trees and establishing of woodlands.
3. Land-use and land-use change and forestry
A land-use and land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) project is underway and due to report by early 2022. This project will quantify the estimated total terrestrial carbon exchange occurring on the Island’s land area. A framework from which to accurately track land use change and the associated changes in emissions will also be completed.
Ongoing and future projects
1. Land Management Plan
A Strategic Land Management Plan will have been commissioned and the first stage completed by winter 2021.
We will have undertaken a combined review of current policies, strategies and legislation, financial mechanisms and incentives with an analysis of sectoral plans, key stakeholders and decision-making processes with identification of conflicting areas across different land use sectors will have been undertaken.
By late 2023 we will have produced an integrated plan that will provide the guidelines for land use and land use change across the Isle of Man, in line with the Government’s goal to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. We will have undertaken a detailed feasibility study with projections for the production of biomass given the required generation outlined in the Energy Strategy.
2. The Manx Blue Carbon Project
In the same way as terrestrial carbon sinks (e.g. peatland, trees), blue carbon habitats in marine and coastal environments - including saltmarsh and seagrass - offer an opportunity to support natural carbon sequestration, and to include these in our future our greenhouse gas accounting.
The Manx Blue Carbon Project will work with stakeholders and partners to design a comprehensive and holistic Strategic Blue Carbon Management Plan for the Isle of Man by February 2025. The plan will inform and guide future marine activities in order to maximise the blue carbon in our marine and coastal environment.
The plan will include:
- An inventory of blue carbon environments in and around the Isle of Man, of the biodiversity they support and the other ecosystem functions they deliver;
- Threats and risks to Manx blue carbon habitats, and measures to minimise or manage these risks;
- Identifying 'hot spots' for protection, and potential for restoration and expansion of blue carbon habitats;
- A long-term monitoring plan to assess the health and carbon capacity of blue carbon areas;
- Suggestions for integrating blue carbon into wider marine spatial planning for the Isle of Man, and other key government plans and strategies.