A Scottish start-up social enterprise that aims to tackle climate change by restoring peatlands has been nominated for the prestigious Earthshot Prize, a global initiative launched by Prince William and Sir David Attenborough.
What is the Earthshot Prize?
The Earthshot Prize is a £50 million award that will be given to five winners every year for the next 10 years, to support the most innovative and impactful solutions to the world’s biggest environmental challenges. The prize is inspired by the concept of moonshots, which since the moon landing in 1969 has become synonymous with ambitious and ground-breaking goals.
The prize has five categories, or Earthshots, which are:
- Protect and restore nature
- Clean our air
- Revive our oceans
- Build a waste-free world
- Fix our climate
Each Earthshot is underpinned by scientifically agreed targets, such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals and other internationally recognised measures to help repair our planet.
Who are the finalists?
The finalists for the Earthshot Prize 2023 were announced on September 17, 2023, and include 15 organisations and individuals from across the world. They were selected from over 200 nominations by a panel of experts, and will be presented to the Earthshot Prize Council, a diverse group of influential figures from various sectors, who will choose the winners.
The finalists for the Earthshot Prize 2023 are:
- Protect and restore nature: A Nature Positive Global Economy, The African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative, and The Republic of Costa Rica
- Clean our air: Takachar, Healthy Air for Every Child, and The City of Milan
- Revive our oceans: Oceanium, Coral Vita, and The Ocean Cleanup
- Build a waste-free world: The Daily Dump, Sanergy, and Plastic Bank
- Fix our climate: Rewilding Argentina, Peatland Restoration Project, and The Global Himalayan Expedition
What is the Peatland Restoration Project?
The Peatland Restoration Project is a social enterprise based in Scotland that aims to restore degraded peatlands, which are wetlands that store large amounts of carbon and provide vital ecosystem services. Peatlands cover only 3% of the world’s land surface, but store twice as much carbon as all the world’s forests combined. However, peatlands are under threat from drainage, burning, overgrazing, and extraction, which release greenhouse gases and contribute to climate change.
The Peatland Restoration Project was founded in 2020 by a team of environmental scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs, who developed a low-cost and scalable method to restore peatlands using drones and biochar. Biochar is a charcoal-like substance that is produced by heating organic matter in a low-oxygen environment. Biochar can enhance soil fertility, water retention, and carbon sequestration, and can also act as a carrier for beneficial microbes and fungi that help peatlands recover.
The Peatland Restoration Project has successfully restored over 1,000 hectares of peatlands in Scotland, and has plans to expand to other countries, such as Indonesia, Peru, and Canada. The project estimates that it can restore 1 million hectares of peatlands by 2030, which could prevent the emission of 500 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, and create over 10,000 green jobs.
Why is the Peatland Restoration Project important?
The Peatland Restoration Project is important because it addresses one of the most urgent and neglected aspects of the climate crisis: the restoration of natural carbon sinks. Peatlands are among the most effective and efficient natural solutions to climate change, as they can store carbon for thousands of years, and also provide other benefits, such as biodiversity, water quality, and flood prevention. However, peatlands are also among the most vulnerable and degraded ecosystems, and require urgent action to prevent further damage and loss.
The Peatland Restoration Project is also important because it demonstrates how innovation, entrepreneurship, and social impact can work together to create positive change. The project uses cutting-edge technology, such as drones and biochar, to restore peatlands in a cost-effective and scalable way, while also creating economic opportunities and social benefits for local communities. The project is an example of how a social enterprise can tackle a global challenge with a local approach, and how a start-up can become a finalist for a prestigious prize.
How can you support the Peatland Restoration Project?
You can support the Peatland Restoration Project by following their progress on their website and social media channels, and by spreading the word about their work and the importance of peatlands. You can also donate to their crowdfunding campaign, which aims to raise £100,000 to restore more peatlands and scale up their impact. You can also watch the Earthshot Prize ceremony on October 17, 2023, where the winners will be announced and celebrated.