"Britain's bogs are far more important than people realize but the actual monetary value of their land area is relatively low," said Christian Dunn, a postgraduate student at Bangor University's School of Biological Sciences, in a press release.
"Carbon stewardship of peatlands could change this though and maybe one day we will see their price tag reach that of prime agricultural land" said.
That could make peat bogs a goldmine for investors, and give people a monetary reason to preserve the ecosystems.
Bogs and peatland are carbon sinks, meaning they store carbon trapped in plant material. Giving carbon credits for peat bogs could effect the economics of carbon trading. Much carbon trading has focused on tropical forests balancing out northern pollution. But many peat bogs exist in northern countries like Ireland, as well as tropical countries like Indonesia.
Putting a bigger price tag on peatlands could also help save Irish bogs from being drained and Indonesian peat swamp forests from becoming oil palm plantations.
"We obviously don't want that carbon to be released as carbon dioxide or methane so we need to look after our peatlands, but with the constant pressure for land we need an incentive to stop our bogs from being drained," said Chris Freeman, of Bangor University and lead researcher in the study of peatlands' value.
"If climate change legislation and carbon trading makes it worthwhile for countries and organizations to look after their peatlands we stand a much better chance of preserving these unique landscapes and the wildlife living in them," Freeman said.
The research was published in the journal, Environmental Science & Technology.
IMAGE 1: A peat bog in Ireland. (Wikimedia Commons)
IMAGE 2: A peat bog in the Black Mountains of Wales. (Wikimedia Commons)
IMAGE 3: The last batch of wood from the peat swamp forest in Indragiri Hulu, Riau Province, Indonesia. The peat swamp was removed for an oil palm plantation. (Wikimedia Commons)