The Complex Nature of Peatland Restoration

Anna gives us an update on her peatland restoration work and the most difficult site yet.



Since starting my position as Peatland ACTION Project Officer at CCC, I have visited many sites within Dumfries and Galloway and Ayrshire. Each site is individual in their land use and management, habitat and the peat restoration requirements to restore the form and function of the peatland.


The start of bare peat erosion.

Peat restoration techniques are not multipurpose and each site requires a bespoke approach and design to fully understand what is best for the peatland itself and the wildlife and people who use it.


One of the sites we visited requires a full design and restoration specification and to be truly honest, I was quite shocked at the severity and complexity of the site and pretty bewildered on how best to approach it!


However, spending time at the site and understanding the hydrology a little more, we were able to identify different stages of degradation which helped paint a picture of why the current landscape looks the way it does.



Micro-gullies and micro-haggs.

The site is actively eroding with complex areas of bare peat erosion (micro-haggs and micro gullies). Over time, these features can worsen and form deep peat gully systems, sometimes down to the mineral/rock horizon beneath the peat profile. These gully systems can become worse still, eventually forming ‘peat canyons’ where restoration would no longer work due to the width and depth of the feature. This is where peat restoration can become challenging.



Gully system.


It is important to remember that not all erosion features can be restored to a near natural or modified state. The primary aim of most restoration projects is to reduce the rate of erosion and peat loss by slowing the flow of water through the system and supporting revegetation of bare peat. So although we cannot restore the more severe erosion features, we can help these areas revegetate by restoring the areas where restoration is possible e.g. the bare peat erosion and gully systems.







The peat canyon (with Dr. Emily Taylor for scale).

I have been working for the Carbon Centre for just under 3 months and I’ve already learnt so much about peatland restoration and the various techniques involved. It is challenging to provide the best solution to each site but I’m really looking forward to seeing restoration begin this winter when we can finally get some machines on site!


The deadline for Peatland ACTION applications is midnight on 30th September 2021 and we’re already very busy progressing various applications for 2021/22. Very exciting times!


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