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The effects of peatland restoration on water quality

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Home research The effects of peatland restoration on water quality

We are investigating the effects of peatland restoration on water quality.

The research focuses on the effects of forest clearance and management techniques such as drain blocking, ground smoothing and mulching on water quality, with a focus on nutrient and dissolved organic carbon transport.

Forest clearance at south Corries Neil McInnes

 photo credit: Neil McInnes

Our studies span five locations across Scotland including sites sensitive for freshwater pearl mussels and Atlantic salmon. Study locations include Flanders Moss, a large raised bog in central Scotland, blanket peat in northern Scotland and an intermediate bog in Galloway, southern Scotland.

Research objectives

Understand the effects of peatland restoration on water quality by undertaking water quality and flow monitoring before and after restoration.

Interpret the results in terms of potential impacts upon aquatic ecology and the carbon balance.

Based upon the findings of the project, assess the effectiveness of the existing water guidelines for controlling potential impacts, identify any deficiencies or gaps and, if needed, provide additional guidance on operational practice for water protection.

Latest updates

Results from Flanders Moss show that forest clearance for peatland restoration can impact negatively upon water quality due to phosphate, DOC, colour and suspended sediment releases. The mechanisms by which the releases occur require further investigation but are thought to be driven by nutrient leaching from forest residues, soil disturbance by machine trafficking and indirect effects of forest clearance, such as water table rise following cessation of forest water use. Climatic effects also play a significant role, particularly drying-rewetting cycles and periods of extended drought. To prevent negative impacts, phased felling and less intensive forest harvesting techniques should be employed.

Our Involvement

FR are leading the studies including the fieldwork, data analysis and interpretation and reporting.

The effects of peatland restoration on water quality
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The effects of peatland restoration on water quality
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Funding & partners
  • fls logo stacked downloadable jpg
  • forestry commission
  • sepa logo
  • rspb logo

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