During the first phase of our project, the partners jointly planned the restoration of their pilots. The work, led by Dr. Chris Field and Prof. Simon Caporn from UK partner Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) was completed during the summer and autumn of 2019.
Surveys across Europe
All partners completed a restoration template based on current peatland science and restoration knowledge. This captured the baseline situation at all sites encompassing current condition, hydrology, noted any protected species and designations, and considered local stakeholders and the desired state following restoration. All partner sites were visited in an ‘EU tour’ during which Chris and Simon were joined by Dr. Terry Morley from National University Ireland Galway. The team carried out basic vegetation surveys at the sites in De Wieden (Netherlands), De Vallei van de Zwarte Beek (Belgium), La Guette (France), Little Woolden and Winmarleigh Mosses (UK), and Cavemount and Cloncrow Bogs (Ireland). They also sampled soil water and peat for later chemical analysis.
Sampled peat and soil water were tested to understand acidity and nutrient levels, helpful in determining whether sites were to be characterised as raised bog, or poor or rich fens. The peat was then examined by hand to understand texture before the amount of organic matter and carbon were analysed. This helped us to determine the condition (humification) of the peat. Metals levels were also examined to understand if contamination posed a threat to restoration at the sites. All results were contrasted to typical values for peatland types and previous peatland survey work undertaken by the team.
Unique mix of peatlands
Drones were also used to capture detailed topographical information and inform water management at the sites. Sentinel 2 satellite images for each site have been obtained to allow comparison with post-restoration condition in the future.
A unique feature of our project is the mix of peatland sites included – from the rich, former peat-pit fens in The Netherlands, through the poor fens in Belgium and France to the raised bogs of Ireland and the UK. The wide range of land management expertise across the partnership provided good discussion of the results from the survey work and ideas regarding the practical elements of each partners’ restoration plans.
Overall, the site survey data collected during summer 2019 supported the main intended restoration plans at each site and highlighted the suitability of the sites to reach their desired states over time following proposed management interventions