Assessing and restoring deep peat

A vital component in our ecosystem

Peatland in pristine or good condition provides a range of critical ecosystem functions, contributing to biodiversity, carbon storage and sequestration, regulation of stream base flows, water runoff and downstream flood peaks. It also contributes to nutrient regulation and retention. Peatlands are sinks and sources of natural greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4).

Peat soils

Peatlands in poor condition may be drying and oxidising, which will cause them to emit carbon, whereas peatland in good condition will be peat forming and therefore sequester carbon.

More than 75 percent of deep peat soils in Wales are covered in semi-natural vegetation. Most of this is upland blanket bog, with significant amounts of fen and flush and, locally, lowland raised bog. These are all UK Biodiversity Action Plan priority habitats and have associated UK and Welsh targets for habitat management and restoration.

Deep peat management

We are committed to optimising the management of the 18,092ha of deep peat which is under woodland cover, in order to ensure benefits to our ecosystems.

A joint, collaborative project between FCW, CCW, EAW and the Welsh Government was commissioned and delivered by Forest Research.

Report on afforested peat

The report : 'A strategic assessment of the afforested peat resource in Wales, and the biodiversity, greenhouse gas flux and hydrological implications of various management approaches for targeting peatland restoration',
contains information about the following:

  • An assessment of the distribution of Welsh peatlands, based on best available spatial information on the extent and location of peat soil and peatlands
  • The delivery of an improved distribution map of upland blanket peat and deep peat soil resources at the highest resolution
  • An improved map of the distribution of afforested deep peats in Wales and ownership of forested land in Wales
  • An overview of the likely impacts of peat forming factors and afforested peatland restoration and management on biodiversity, hydrology and greenhouse gas (GHG) benefits
  • National and field-based assessment schemes; rule-based criteria, proxy factors and thresholds for the assessment of afforested peatland in Wales which is viable for restoration
  • A national GIS assessment identifying potential restoration areas in Wales
  • Field-based assessment by ground truthing a number of sites in Wales
  • Relative costs of afforested peat restoration

Report summary

This report helps identify the opportunities for restoration of afforested deep peat and for prioritising restoration efforts. A summary of the peat report is also available

There is also a field assessment tool for use by practitioners assessing afforested sites on deep peat.

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