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Peatland ecosystem services

Home research Peatland ecosystem services


FR_tree_removal_2010.jpgWe aim to learn how land use affects the main ecosystem services from afforested peatland (i.e. water supply, flood reduction, climate change reduction, wood production and wildlife habitats). We are comparing forestry with forest-to-bog restoration and creation of low-density peatland edge woodland.

Research objectives

For the three land uses:

  • Measure water yield, quality, and high and low flows
  • Measure carbon in drainage water and greenhouse gas exchange with the atmosphere
  • Measure the abundance of plants and animals dependent on peatland habitats
  • Study microbial processes in peat, relating land use to water and greenhouse gases
  • Express results in terms of the balance of ecosystem services


Project work gets underway in October 2016 with 3 related PhD studentships focused on how different ecosystem services are affected by peat land use. After these finish in 2020, Forest Research will continue monitoring through land use changes.


Russell Anderson

Funders and partners

  • Core funding: Forestry Commission (FC)
  • PhD on water-based ecosystem services: FC Scotland, University of Leeds, FC, SEPA
  • PhD on gas-based ecosystem services: FC Scotland, University of Aberdeen, James Hutton Institute, FC
  • PhD on microbial processes in peat: FC Scotland,

Forestry Commission policy

Forestry policy relating to peatland habitats was set down in 2000. It encouraged only limited restoration because evidence of benefits was lacking.

In 2014, supplementary guidance for Scotland stated a presumption to restore habitats in protected sites, those affecting connectivity of EU Habitats Directive Annex 1 habitats and those where deforestation would reduce net greenhouse gas emissions. Elsewhere, on sites insufficiently productive for tree growth to compensate for greenhouse gas losses from the soil, it recommends creating low-density, low-intensity, 'peatland edge woodland', which retains some woodland benefits but avoids a net carbon loss. 'Deciding future management options for afforested deep peatland' gives more information.

The results of this research project will inform future review of the policy.

What's of interest

New project: Creating sustainable forested peatlands

Recent book: Peatland Restoration and Ecosystem Services

Project in progress: Carbon accumulation and loss in afforested peatlands

Peatbog restoration trials: Rewetting cracked peat

News about Peatland restoration in Wales

Forestry policy for Peatland habitats in Scotland

Woodlands and peat in Wales

Peatland restoration resources

Related documents

Peatland ecosystem services
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