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CSX & Teesside University are delighted to have started a Peatland Restoration Knowledge Transfer Partnership, to drive a positive contribution to the fight against the Climate Emergency.

Here at CSX we are delighted to have secured funding contributions in collaboration with Teesside University to undertake a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP).  The purpose of the KTP is to develop an Artificial Intelligence system to improve peatland condition monitoring and assessment.  This will enable peatland owners to scale peatland restoration, and better access peatland carbon offset funding markets to increase the delivery of major carbon benefits.

Peatlands store vast quantities of carbon, ‘locking in’ an estimated 3.2 billion tonnes in the UK alone.  80% of peatlands in the UK have however been damaged by human intervention.  Primarily through drainage to allow for the grazing of animals or growing of crops and trees.  Drainage leads to decomposition of plant material and soil shrinkage which releases carbon into the air contributing to CO2 emissions into the atmosphere. Worldwide, CO2 emissions from drained peatlands are estimated annually at 1.3 gigatonnes.

Peat formations are a significant element of the higher ground surrounding Teesside, with the source of the River Tees in Upper Teesdale being surrounded by extensive peat bogs.

CSX and Teesside University are excited to have appointed Teesside University graduate, Radia Chowdhury as the KTP Associate to join the CSX team at our offices in the C4DI (Centre 4 Digital Innovation) in Northallerton.

Teesside University academics Dr Annalisa Occhipinti, Associate Professor and Dr Alessandro Di Stefano, Senior Lecturer in Computer Science will utilise their expertise in Machine Learning, AI, and Predictive Modelling to support Radia in developing an AI model to identify, measure and predict peatland conditions and identify peatlands requiring intervention. The project will also be supported by Dr Jawad Fayaz, Senior Lecturer in Civil Engineering, and Professor Claudio Angione, Professor of Artificial Intelligence.

Using the developed AI model, landowners can then cost effectively identify areas of peatland degradation and take restorative action to protect the peatland. This will have significant environmental impacts on CO2 emissions, as well as improving water quality and biodiversity by increasing habitat stability for wildlife.

Andy Howard, CSX CEO commented “being able to secure the KTP financial support to appoint Radia enables us to demonstrate how further collaborations along the River Tees can put the region at the forefront of combatting the Climate Emergency.  We have around us a critical carbon store and potential sink in peatlands.  Working with Teesside University we will create the link utilising modern technology and Artificial Intelligence to enable the effective protection and restoration of these vital habitats.”

Dr Occhipinti added: “Delivering research which responds directly to the climate emergency is central to Teesside University’s research strategy and so we are delighted to be working alongside CSX on this highly innovative project.

“Peatlands are a key feature of this region’s landscape and this project will be highly impactful in helping preserve them for future generations to enjoy, while utilising their carbon storage potential in the fight against global climate change.”

The 30 month programme is part funded by the Government’s Innovate UK. KTP is a three-way collaboration between a business, an academic partner and a recent graduate to deliver a strategic innovation project to drive business and growth and innovation.

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