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Project leader: Afforested peatland restoration and ecosystem services

Russell leads research to support forest policy and practice relating to afforested peatlands. This covers the impacts of peatland afforestation and restoration on key ecosystem services. It includes testing techniques for peatland restoration and trialling alternative types of land management that may in some places give greater overall benefits.

Russell proposed research tasks and outputs under this work area for 2015-19 and is working through these. Some tasks involve setting up 3-4 year trials in which plant communities and soil physical properties, particularly the water table, are monitored to determine the impact of experimental treatments. Other tasks involve much longer term monitoring and interpretation to understand processes through which forests impact on peatland.

Partnerships with universities and other environmental organisations are a common feature of Russell’s research, particularly for tasks that can be tackled through co-supervised PhD studentships. Russell attends conferences to exchange knowledge and build contact networks, which he maintains partly through participating in professional common-good activities.

Russell joined Forest Research in 1978 and has undertaken research on soils, hydrology, peatlands and ecology. He studied for an MSc in Forest Science at Edinburgh in 2000-2003. He is a member of the Land Use and Ecosystem Services (LUES) team and co-ordinates the Evidence and Knowledge work area.


Member of Scotland’s National Peatland Research and Monitoring Group
Member of British Ecological Society
Corporate member of the International Peatland Society
Member of the UK Peatland Society

Physical environmental sciences


Northern Research Station

Bush Estate



Related Research


Land Use and Ecosystem Services

The research aims to increase our understanding of how woodlands and wooded landscapes provide a diverse range of ecosystem services (ES), and to help policymakers, forest managers and planners understand and assess how the specific placement and management of woodlands affects ES delivery at various scales.

Status current


Carbon accumulation and loss in afforested peatlands

PhD studentship •Quantifying carbon accumulation and loss in afforested peatlands

Status current
Rewetting trials

This project aims to test two techniques for rewetting cracked peat bogs so that we can recommend how to do it in practice. Barriers to water movement are formed by digging trenches to deeper than the cracks and repacking them with peat with or without a plastic membrane lining one side of the trench.

Peatland ecosystem services

Monitoring ecosystem services from afforested peatland and the effects of bog restoration and conversion to peatland edge woodland

Related Publications


The effect of forest-to-bog restoration on the hydrological functioning of raised and blanket bogs

Howson, T., Chapman, P. J., Shah, N., Anderson, R., & Holden, J. (2021). The effect of forest-to-bog restoration on the hydrological functioning of raised and blanket bogs. Ecohydrology, e2334.



Ground surface subsidence in an afforested peatland fifty years after drainage and planting

In the UK, large areas of peatland were drained for forestry in the second half of the 20th century. Ground surface subsidence and diminishing depth (thickness) of the peat layer can indicate compaction of the peat and/or carbon loss, but there are few long-term datasets from afforested UK peatlands. Here we present an unprecedented 50-year […]

A strategic assessment of the afforested peat resource in Wales

This report assesses the distribution of the Welsh peatlands, gives an overview of the likely impacts of peat forming factors and afforested peatland restoration, develops national and field based assessment schemes for the assessment of afforested peatland in Wales viable for restoration, carries out a national GIS assessment identifying potential restoration areas in Wales, tests […]

Restoring afforested peat bogs: results of current research

The value of peat bogs as open habitats and stores of carbon may be lost if they are planted with trees. The number of bogs being restored is increasing but still modest in scale relative to the area of afforested peatland. Research is currently being carried out to determine the feasibility and methodology for restoring […]

[Archive] Deforesting and restoring peat bogs: a review

Afforestation affects bogs by triggering physical, chemical and biological changes within the environment. The primary purpose of bog restoration is to re-create wildlife habitat. This Technical Paper addresses the case for restoration, the basic principles that should be considered, the special case of cracked peat, and results from and practical experience gained in past restoration […]

Other Research

Cracked peat rewetting trials
As project leader, Russell runs the two field trials, analyses data and communicates results.

Peatland use and ecosystem services
Co-ordinator of this major partnership project based on a trio of PhD studentships.

Quantifying carbon accumulation and loss in afforested peatlands
Partner and co-supervisor of this Leverhulme Trust funded PhD project.

Bog restoration experiments
As project leader, Russell analyses data and communicates results from two replicated field experiments.

Peat subsidence due to afforestation and drainage
Project leader responsible for long-term monitoring and analysing, interpreting and communicating results.

Peer reviewed journal articles

Peer reviewed papers

Howson, T., Chapman, P.J., Shah, N., Anderson, R. & Holden, J. 2021. The effect of forest-to-bog restoration on the hydrological functioning of raised and blanket bogs. Ecohydrology, e2334.

Howson, T., Chapman, P.J., Shah, N., Anderson, R. & Holden, J. 2021. A comparison of porewater chemistry between intact, afforested and restored raised and blanket bogs. Science of the Total Environment 766 20 April 2021, 144496.

Sloan, T., Payne, R.J., Anderson, A.R., Gilbert, P., Mauquoy, D., Newton, A.J. & Andersen, R. 2019. Ground surface subsidence in an afforested peatland fifty years after drainage and planting. Mires and Peat 23 Article 06, 1-12.

Alshammari, L. Large, D.J. Boyd, D.S. Sowter, A. Anderson, R. Andersen, R. Marsh, S. 2018. Long-term peatland condition assessment via surface motion monitoring using the ISBAS DInSAR technique over the Flow Country, Scotland. Remote Sensing 2018, 10 (7), 1103.

Payne, R.J. Anderson, A.R. Sloan, T. Gilbert, P. Newton, A. Ratcliffe, J. Mauquoy, D. Jessop, W. Andersen, R. 2018. The future of peatland forestry in Scotland: balancing economics, carbon and biodiversity. Scottish Forestry 72(1) Spring/Summer 2018, 34-40.

Ratcliffe, J. Andersen, R. Anderson, R. Newton, A. Campbell, D. Mauquoy, D. Payne, R. 2017 Contemporary carbon fluxes do not reflect the long-term carbon balance for an Atlantic blanket bog. The Holocene 28(1) 140-149.

Anderson, R. Peace, A. 2017. Ten-year results of a comparison of methods for restoring afforested blanket bog. Mires and Peat 19 Article 06, 1-23.

Wilson, J.D. Anderson, R. Bailey, S. Chetcuti, J. Cowie, N.R. Hancock, M.H. Quine, C.P. Russell, N., Stephen, L. Thompson, D.B.A. 2014. Modelling edge effects of mature forest plantations on peatland waders informs landscape-scale conservation. Journal of Applied Ecology 51, 204-213.

Yamulki, S. Anderson, R. Peace, A. Morison, J.I.L. 2013. Soil CO2 CH4 and N2O fluxes from an afforested raised peatbog in Scotland: implications for drainage and restoration. Biogeosciences 10, 1051-1065.

Whitfield, S., Reed, M., Thomson, K., Christie, M., Stringer, L., Quin, C. H., Anderson, R., Moxey, A. and Hubacek, K. (2011) Managing peatland ecosystem services: current UK policy and future challenges in a changing world. Scottish Geographical Journal, 127(3), 209-230.

Book chapters

Anderson, R. Vasander, H. Geddes, N. Laine, A. Tolvanen, A. O’Sullivan, A., Aapala, K. 2016. Chapter 12 Afforested and forestry-drained peatland restoration. In: Peatland restoration and ecosystem services (eds. A. Bonn, T. Allott, M. Evans, H. Joosten, R. Stoneman). British Ecological Society Ecological Reviews series. Cambridge University Press.

FC and FR publications

Anderson, R. (2021) Factsheet: Peatlands, forestry and climate change. Climate Change Factsheet Series, Forest Research. 2pp.

Anon,(2014). Managing open habitats in upland forests. Forestry Commission Practice Guide. 40pp. Forestry Commission, Edinburgh.

Anderson, A.R. (2010). Restoring afforested peat bogs – results of current research (PDF-954K). Forestry Commission Research Note 6. Forestry Commission, Edinburgh.

Contract and project reports

Trippier, B., Robinson, P., Day, J., French, G., Sym, E., Colson, D., Grady, M., Anderson, R, Keane, R., Webb, A., Brownett, J., Guest, P., Horton, C. & Cooke, J. 2020. Copernicus User Uptake Work Package 6: Support for Applications – Monitoring change in peatland condition using analysis-ready Sentinel data. JNCC Report No. 674. JNCC, Peterborough, ISSN 0963-8091.

Campbell, D., Robson, P., Andersen, R., Anderson, R., Chapman, S., Cowie, N., Gregg, R., Hermans, R., Payne, R., Perks, M. and West, V. (2019). Technical review: Peatlands and forestry. IUCN UK Peatland Programme.

Artz, R.E. Faccioli, M. Roberts, M. Anderson, R. 2018. Peatland restoration – a comparative analysis of the costs and merits of different restoration methods. ClimateXChange, Edinburgh, 36 pp.

Anderson, R. Watts, K. Riddle N., Crosher, I. Diack, I. 2014. An assessment of the afforested peat land in England and opportunities for restoration

Anderson, R. Cariss, H. 2013. Field assessment tool for deep peat. Forestry Commission Wales

Vanguelova, E. Anderson, R. Broadmeadow, S. Yamulki, S. Randle, T. Nisbet, T. Morison, J. 2011. A strategic assessment of the afforested peat resource in Wales

Trade journal and newsletter articles

Anderson R. & Williams D. 2018. Rewetting cracked peat in forest-to-bog restoration. Flow Country Research Hub Newsletter Spring 2018.

Anderson, R. 2017. What should we do about forests on peat bogs? SCRR Newsletter Issue 87 Spring 2017.

Scientific conferences: presentations or posters

Anderson, R. 2016. Forest-to-bog restoration in Scotland: recent advances, gaps and barriers. IUCN UK Peatland Programme conference: Creating a Legacy for Peatlands 29 Nov-1 Dec 2016, Shrewsbury.

Anderson, R. 2016. Bog restoration from forestry in UK: Lessons from the Forestry Commission’s experience as practitioner, researcher and regulator. Cumbria BogLIFE mid-project conference: Restoring peatlands – the development of best practice techniques 4-6 Oct 2016, Penrith.

Anderson, R. 2015. Restoration of afforested peatlands across Europe. EU LIFE Rebuilding Ireland’s Natural Capital end of project conference, 29-30 Sep 2015, Athlone.

Anderson, R. Vasander, H. Geddes, N. Laine, A. Tolvanen, A, O’Sullivan, A. Aapala, K. 2012. Restoration of afforested peatlands – ecosystem service gains and losses. IUCN UK Peatland Programme conference: Investing in peatland – demonstrating success 26-27 Jun 2012, Bangor, Wales