On blanket bog, or in woodland bogs, mosses and grasses use CO2 to create plant tissue. When this dies, it becomes a new layer of peat.
Many of our UK peatlands have been drained, over-grazed, or damaged by (other) atmospheric pollutants. As a result, the surface of the peat has been opened to erosion. These erosion ‘hags’ are then further damaged by trampling (for example by deer), or by the flow of surface water after heavy rainfall or snow-melt. Natural recovery from this damage is very slow, and can take many decades. Once exposed, the peat becomes oxidised, and the stored carbon is released into the atmosphere as CO2.
Peatland restoration - blanket bogs
- Decades of collaborative deer control across the partnership has reduced the ongoing damage to vast tracts of blanket bog. However, historic damage means that significant erosion ‘hags’ still occur. Our work will establish dams, re-profile the damaged blanket bog surface, and ‘seed’ re-establishment of vegetation. In the medium term, this reduces surface oxidation, stabilises the peat against surface erosion, and enables the vegetation to resume building the peat resource - binding in more atmospheric carbon.
- Deer management helps us to succeed in these other projects. By reducing deer numbers, we reduce trampling impacts, reduce grazing pressure on peatland plants, and we reducing browsing impacts on the young trees that will eventually grow into mature trees, enabling our forests to expand.
Peatland restoration - bog woodlands
- By blocking ditches that were used to drain these bogs, we can saturate peat-soils, which reduces oxidisation of carbon. We can also create better conditions for further peat formation, capturing more atmospheric carbon.
Trees use carbon to create wood, branches and leaves/needles.
When plants photosynthesise, they convert atmospheric carbon into carbon in a stored form, where it no longer causes environmental problems.