Re-peated glory

Timber dams on Cray Moss © Matt Cross

The aim of the game when restoring peatlands is straight forward...

...we just need to:

  • raise the water table
  • stop further erosion of peat
  • revegetate bare peat
  • establish blanket bog plants

Now, the aims may be simple but achieving them in one of the UK’s harshest environments is no walk in the park (or wade in the bog). Each site we survey has a different character, a different set of issues that require a tailored approach to restoration.

Fortunately, we are not short of experience in the YPP office. Our Project Manager, Tim Thom, has worked for 10 years to develop our technical specifications - you can find them on our resources page. For the wide range of problems that face peatlands , we have developed an equally wide range of techniques to solve them.

Blocking Grips and Gullies

This is the main focus of peatland restoration. Blocking drainage channels helps to slow the flow of water, helping reduce flood risk downstream. It also brings the water table closer to the surface.

Having the water table close to the surface is vital for forming peat, the material the locks up all that carbon; keeping our peatlands wet is so important when thinking about practical steps to fight climate change.

Depending on the type of drainage channel our restoration team find, there are a few different structures we use to block them. See some examples below:

Re-profiling

Some of the drainage and erosion features we find are incredibly steep and several metres high. This not only makes it difficult for plants to colonise this exposed area, it also makes these features vulnerable to further wind and rain erosion.

The trick is to ‘re-profile’ these inclines to a shallower angle. Our skilled contractors are experienced in working with these features - they reduce the slopes to a gentle gradient and cover the bare peat with vegetation.

Aerial footage of a digger rerpofiling peat © Chris Osborne

Revegetation and Blanket Bog plants

Bare peat is good for no one. It isn’t useful for the land owner, wildlife cannot thrive there and it releases carbon into our atmosphere and water supplies.

The first step for treating bare peat is damage limitation. We just need to get plants established to cover and stabilise the peat. We use cut heather stalks, upland grass seed and dwarf shrubs to cover the bare ground. Once this vegetation has taken root we look to plant sphagnum moss and cotton grasses; two iconic blanket bog species and vital to peat growth.