Additional information

In the following sections we provide some more additional and thought provoking information about this and related projects.

Currently, there is a real 'awakening' in science and policy areas about the important role peatlands play globally in regulating climate and providing ecosystem services. Although global models still struggle to include peatland C dynamics accurately (i.e. reflecting total peat depth and C dynamics in relation to a dynamic hydrology and vegetation dynamcis), it is becoming clear that we need more 'real' data to inform policy makers about the important role of these systems. Particularly in the UK, the provision of clean drinking water is now high on the agenda. However, the underlying processes are still largely unknown, such as the role of plant and associated microbial biodiversity and the impact of different land management strategies on these associations. In the past there have been a few initiatives aiming to clarify those linkages and the underlying processes, although more recently the number of such initiatives is increasing, some crucial studies are now known to have suffered from major experimental and analytical flaws (see Ashby & Heinemeyer, 2018, 2019). We hope that our project will add to the increasing amount of supporting evidence in rethinking management in order to secure ecosystem services for us and future generations. The devil is as always in the detail, so we need to have a long and hard look into the "hidden half", the soil, as well as assess the surface vegetation and our impact on both halves. There might not be one blanket approach to blanket bog management. 

Finally, in the literature and on many web pages one frequently finds unexplained terminology and statements which do not seem to be supported by any credible or sound evidence. For example, the term 'peat-forming species' seems to lack real evidence, key "indicator species" often show a very broad range of habitat conditions, and the terms 'intact' or 'degraded' bog seem to be ill-defined, covering a huge range of conditions, which are based on above ground visual assessments rather than actual ecosystem services process knowledge. This is not to say that all of this is wrong; but it is often much more complex than the simplistic messages sold to policy makers and the public alike. It is to 'know the unknowns' which will advance science and our understanding on how best to manage ecosystems - this often will include accepting that there are trade-offs. There is no thing as the perfect ecosystem for delivery of every ecosystem service;  it is unlikely that a blanket approach to blanket bog management will succeed in achieving this. Management can and should be complex, adapted to the needs, the environment and specific site conditions; maybe a combination of different management regimes will provide the many anticipated benefits to ecosystem services from upland areas, including carbon and water storage, drinking water provision, climate regulation, biodiversity, economy and recreation. However, by knowing the unknowns and conducting long-term, experimental monitoring, we hope to unravel some of those knowledge gaps and provide the much needed evidence base to clarify many of those aspects and uncertainties around blanket bog processes and ecosystem functioning - covering a joined-up range of monitoring and modelling towards supporting a holistic understanding around "bog to bug to bird".