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Peatland restoration: Dr. Tim Thom, Yorkshire wildlife trust.

Peatland restoration: Dr. Tim Thom, Yorkshire wildlife trust.

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  • Peatlands cover approximately 4million km2 3% of the world’s land area Stretching across 175 countries from the tropics to the poles
  • UK has 9-15% of Europe’s peatlands UK peatlands form 33% of the UK’s soils. The majority of UK peatlands are concentrated in Scotland and northern England Red/dark brown show the deeper peatland areas with mainly blanket and raised bogs Green shows the degraded shallow peaty soils again mainly in the uplands The light brown areas in East Anglia and other agricultural lowlands show wasted or cultivated peat. The peatlands in the southeast are fens
  • The Part A survey Is desk based Map Grips Gullies Bare peat HER
  • For the part be survey we draw transects across the site again ensuring we get the best coverage

Tim thom Tim thom Presentation Transcript

  • Global Distribution of PeatlandsApproximately 4 million km2175 countries from tropics to poles3% of the world’s land area
  • UK Distribution of Peatlands Peatlands occur in a number of different forms in the UK: fens, wet woodland and bogs 92% of the peatland in the UK occurs as blanket and raised bogs The UK has about 13% of the world’s blanket bog
  • Carbon storage & sinkPeatlands cover just 3% of the world’s land surface but store morethan 30% of the total global soil carbonA loss of just 1.6% of the global peat store equates to the totalannual global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissionsIn the UK peatlands store 3 200 million tonnes of carbon, 20 timesthan that of UK forestsSemi-natural, intact bogs may remove 30-70 tonnes of carbon perkm2 per yearA loss of just 5% of the UK peat store equates to the total annual UKanthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions
  • BiodiversityLargest area of semi-natural habitat in the UK containing 16 NVCplant communitiesOne of the most ancient and unique habitats in Europe dating backthousands of years (designated as SAC)Supports a unique, rare and threatened range of specialised speciesadapted to waterlogged, nutrient-poor conditions such as sundewsand SphagnumInternationally important bird assemblages such as golden plover,dunlin, merlin & hen harrier (designated as SPA)
  • HistoryPreserved pollen and partially decomposed plant remains enables reconstruction of vegetation and land management history.Record of past atmospheric pollution levelsRecord of past events – eg volcanic eruptionsArchaeological artefacts
  • EconomyAs major tourist attractions peatland bring the tourist pound intoremote areas supporting accommodation providers and localcommunitesManagement of peatlands for grouse (or deer stalking in Scotland)provides employment opportunities for keepers and other sportingmanagersPeatlands are an integral part of the extensive sheep farmingsystems of the UK uplandsIn some areas of the UK peat is still exploited as a fuelsource
  • Current state of peatlandsLess than 20% of blanket bog in UK is in a natural or near-naturalconditionMajority of UK peatlands are no longer peat forming16% severely eroded, 10% afforested, 11% affected by past peat-cutting, 40% modified or destroyed by conversion to agricultureNow emitting 3.7million tonnes of CO2 equivalents per year >average annual emissions of Leeds, Edinburgh and Cardiff.Only 58% of internationally designated blanket bog is in favourablecondition. Of the rest only 15% is recoveringOver last 30 years amount of dissolved organic carbon (browncolour) in water draining peatlands has doubled which has to betaken out by water companies
  • Key damaging driversLarge areas drained with ditches (grips) through agriculturalsubsidies. No longer funded but still flowing and eroding10% of UK peatlands afforested. Generally requires drainage,cultivation and fertilisation which causes peat to crack, shrink andoxidiseHeavy grazing changes the vegetation converting from specialists tograss dominated peatlands which begin to erode and stop peatforming.Fire. Wildfire and poorly-managed burns on grouse moors damagesSphagnum and leads to conversion to heather and grasses.Dessicated peatlands are drier and more prone to fire – a viciouscircle
  • Partnership funded by:Yorkshire Wildlife TrustYorkshire Dales NPANorth York Moors NPAEnvironment AgencyNatural EnglandYorkshire WaterNational TrustOther Partners:Yorkshire Dales rivers TrustNidderdale AONBPennine ProspectsMoorland AssociationNational Gamekeepers AssociationNational Farmers Union
  • Objectives•Restore 35,000 (50%) of peatland by restoring 3401km (45%) ofgrip/gully and re-vegetating 169ha (50%) of bare peat by March2017• Establish long-term sites for research into the benefits ofpeatland restoration to ecosystem services by March 2013•To use and promote best practice in all applied restorationtechniques•To raise awareness and promote the multitude of benefits thatpeatland restoration can provide
  • Part A – Aerial Photographs
  • Part B – Rapid Walkover
  • Category 1b - Category 3 - Eroding and deeplyBlocked grip scoured; >1000mm- 1500mm wide; >1000mm-1200mm deepCategory 1f -Flowing grip up to Category 4+600mm wide;650mm deep
  • Eroding Hags Peat PansMicro Erosion Oxidised Peat
  • Grip blocking
  • Gully blockingMajority of larger grips and some gullies can be blocked using timbersediment traps
  • Gully/hag reprofilingAll gullies but especially larger ones that can’t be blocked are re-profiled and then re-vegetated to remove source of continued erosion
  • Re-vegetating bare peatBare peat needs treating in several ways to get a vegetation cover toestablishpH levels often too low for vegetation (even Sphagnum)Wind, water and frost heave in exposed areas mean surface iscontinually mobile so vegetation cannot get a holdVulnerable to dessiccation in dry periods
  • Cut heather brash Transport brash to site Spread brash to stabilise surface Create stable root mat Spread lime & fertiliser to support growth for 3 yrs 3 yrs on all being well Establish Sphagnum & other peat formers
  • Results so farAchievement by December 2011 QuantityArea of land surveyed 16,542ha (48%)Area under restoration 3283ha (10%)Length of grips blocked 334km (13%)Length of eroding gullies re-vegetated 40km (5%)Area of bare peat re-vegetated 17ha (10%)Number of peat dams installed in grips 33,000Number of timber sediment traps installed in larger grips and 300gulliesNumber of peat depth records 20,000Number of volunteers involved 40
  • Carbon & climate change
  • Biodiversity & HistoryRestore the peat we regain the biodiversity and prevent the loss of thehistoric record
  • Water qualityBlocking reduces fine particulate organic matter, suspended solidsand bed sediment leading to change back to Ephemeroptera,Plecoptera, Trichoptera from Diptera.
  • Restoration works!