Welcome to Peatland-ES-UK

Blanket Bog (upland peat) Management and Ecosystem Services in the UK   
Please also see our website at: Ecological Continuity Trust                                                                                                                                                                                                                           


This site has been created to inform you about:

The Defra funded peatland project BD5104 'Restoration of blanket bog vegetation for biodiversity, carbon sequestration and water regulation'. The project's Phase 1 initially runs from 2011 to 2017 with Phase 2 now under way until 2021 (i.e. another 5 years). 

We are particularly grateful to Defra for funding this project's Phase 1, to the Yorkshire Peat Partnership (YPP) for being such a devoted project partner, and to the Moorland Association (MA) for being a very supportive Advisory Group member. We also express our thanks to Natural England (NE) which is providing valuable day-to-day guidance within this project. Finally, we would like to thank all the involved landowners, land users, and especially the gamekeepers and farmers for their patience and contributions. We very much appreciate their support. 

We would like to acknowledge the Phase 2 co-funding by the MA, YPP (CASE PhD), NE (CASE PhD)the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC), United Utilities (UU) and Yorkshire Water Services (YWS). Additional funding by the Heather Trust (HT; via funding from the ) is currently under consideration. We have also received some maintenance grants from the Ecological Continuity Trust (ECT).

Project aims

The overarching aim of this study is to:

Acquire experimental data to underpin the development and refinement of possible management techniques, for example, applicable through Environmental Stewardship schemes, to address the dominance of heather (Calluna vulgaris) and facilitate the support of ‘active’ blanket bog vegetation (with peat-forming species, particularly Sphagnum spp.).

This requires screening for the most suitable management techniques and then including those as part of a manipulative experiment to provide scientifically sound and meaningful data upon which to base policy advice and subsequently inform management decisions, considering both, environmental and socio-economic implications.

Considering the slow responses to any management change in a cold upland environment, a long-term approach is needed in order to capture ecologically meaningful and practitioner relevant trajectories in vegetation changes and impacts on ecosystem services. The second phase will allow such a longer-term perspective.

The unique approach in this project is the at three sites replicated BACI catchment-scale design including further management option plot-level replicates.

Project outcomes

We expect the major project outcomes to be to:

1.  Provide in depth understanding of the management implications on key ecosystem services related to biodiversity, carbon, greenhouse gases and water.

2.  Provide a cost benefit analysis based recommendation on the most feasible and best management regime for heather dominated blanket bogs, particularly in respect to environmental implications.

3.  Achieve increased awareness of the ecosystem functioning and services provided by blanket bogs among stakeholders such as landowners, managers and associated user groups.

Notably, the above outcomes rely on the long-term monitoring of climate and management related impacts on vegetation, soil and hydrological parameters. In addition to routine monitoring, several NERC-funded iCASE PhD projects are now investigating soil microbial (NE) and chemical (YWS & YPP) processes underpinning carbon and water related ecosystem services.

Results will become available soon as part of the Phase 1 (BD5104) Defra Report. Publications are already available (see Biography).