Our ecology team has recently expanded with the exciting appointment of Ewan Campbell, a Principal Ecologist based in our Edinburgh office.
We catch up with Ewan to learn more about his role, the importance of peatlands and how nature-based solutions can help clients tackle their carbon emissions and achieve biodiversity net gain.
07 Jun 2022
Tell us about your role at RPS?
I’m a Principal Ecologist and will lead on peatland habitat assessments and develop, design, and produce Habitat Management Plans for onshore renewable developments. I’ll also be involved in developing tailored site assessments to support the emerging market for peatland carbon finance.
How about your previous experience?
I have been heavily involved in peatland restoration over the last decade for the Scottish Government-led Peatland Action Programme. I worked for NatureScot (formerly SNH) for nearly 20 years in a range of roles with a strong focus on ecology, conservation management, and development planning.
What are our biggest climate challenges?
It’s no surprise the obvious crises are biodiversity loss and climate change, which are currently humanity’s greatest threats. But I believe both present opportunities for positive change. There is now a much greater emphasis on delivering nature-based solutions to climate change, and in the majority of cases, this can also contribute to enhancing biodiversity.
Adopting nature-based solutions will open up future opportunities for developing and designing optimal peatland restorations. By doing so, natural flood management (NFM) measures can be incorporated, along with carbon-storage options to maximise revenue for corporate-level carbon offsetting.
How can nature-based solutions tackle the climate emergency?
Nature-based solutions will be instrumental in climate change adaptation. They offer a cost-effective approach and can contribute to disaster risk reduction, build resilient cities, improve water management and contribute to long-term food security.
I have a particular interest in nature-based carbon capture/reduction technologies, which are also key benefits that can be derived from restoring peatlands.
How can your experience and expertise help?
I aim to play a key part, particularly within the context of peatland restoration, which is widely accepted as one of the most important nature-based solutions to climate change. I’ll be heavily involved in developing high-quality peatland restoration projects, that not only lead to a net reduction in carbon emissions but also help build greater resilience to future climate change effects. My experience working for a government nature conservation agency will serve me well when solving potentially tricky issues. Working in collaboration with colleagues, I’ll be offering clients a bespoke service that meets their specific needs, and helping to instill confidence through robust advice and support.
Talk us through peatland carbon finance?
The majority of UK peatlands are damaged or deteriorating and are a significant source of atmospheric carbon via emissions of carbon dioxide and methane. Restoring peatland habitats to a good condition has the potential to significantly reduce these emissions. However, there are currently insufficient public funds available in the UK to support the level of peatland restoration required to meet our respective Net Zero targets.
One potential solution to this issue is the development of a blended (public / private) finance approach, currently operated under the Peatland Code (IUCN UK Peatland Programme) which is the voluntary certification standard for UK peatland projects wishing to market the climate benefits of peatland. This can help make restoration projects more affordable, and also provide land managers with a long-term revenue stream that can offer them a greater incentive to restore their peatlands. This approach also presents potential opportunities for local communities to invest under shared ownership/community buy-out schemes.
The overall predicted reduction in carbon emissions resulting from restoring a given area of peatland can be calculated for individual projects, and each ton of carbon saved equates to a single peatland carbon unit (PCU) or pending issuance unit (PIU) depending on whether restoration work has been completed or not. The resulting PCUs/PIUs can then be sold by the landowner via the UK Land Carbon Registry marketplace and this presents opportunities for corporate-level carbon offsetting through the purchase of carbon units.
We are currently seeing rapid growth in the peatland restoration sector and RPS can play a key role in the development of these projects, from undertaking initial baseline assessments including habitat condition, peat depth, and hydrology, to developing bespoke restoration plans for landowner Clients that meet Peatland Code eligibility requirements.
And finally, why RPS?
I have worked alongside RPS on projects before and was very impressed by the company ethos and multi-disciplinary nature of the business, so I’m very pleased to be here.
I look upon my work as my legacy, and it’s an exciting time to be involved in peatland restoration. Moving here has given me the perfect platform to do that.
For more information on nature-based solutions, our peatlands experience and the services we offer, get in touch below.
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