Forestry & peatlands

Image © Norrie Russell

Forestry & peatlands

A large area of peatlands across the UK is planted with commercial forestry. In the period since the Commission of Inquiry on Peatlands (2011) there has been a significant increase in the amount of forest-to-bog restoration, which has been taking place on Government, private and NGO-owned land. Whilst the techniques used to restore these areas are beginning to develop, the delivery of this work has, to an extent, relied on trial of emerging techniques and follow up monitoring to estimate success. We are now in a position to bring together some of the practitioner experience and unpublished data available in relation to forest-to-bog restoration and establish a consensus on good practice techniques for successful restoration of afforested peatlands.

Current forestry policy recognises the need to remove trees from areas of deep peat; or at least not to replant trees after a first rotation where there are biodiversity and carbon benefits to be achieved from restoration to open habitat.  An IUCN UK PP workshop on forestry and peatlands explored the scientific basis behind current estimates of carbon balance on afforested and restored peatlands. The workshop concluded that there is some deficiency in the assumptions and parameters used in current UK models. Since then a number of additional studies have sought to improve our understanding.

The Peatland Code recognises that tree removal is an important restoration opportunity but is awaiting reliable estimates of carbon impacts before it can be formally included in the scheme. This lack of consensus prevents potential funding from private investors through the Code and may prevent the aspiration of restoring afforested peatlands from being fully realised. 

The IUCN Commission of Inquiry update is currently reviewing some of the evidence around afforested peatlands and peatland restoration.  The update will look at the evidence for good practice forest-to-bog restoration as well as the carbon metrics and modelling of land-use decisions of afforested peatland.

Dubh lochans and blanket bog at The Flows NNR near Forsinard, Caithness. June 2011 ©Lorne Gill/SNH/2020VISION
Scottish Budget 2020-21The Scottish Government announces £20 million for peatland restoration and a commitment to invest £…
Land use: policies for a Net Zero UK CCC report
Committee on Climate Change Report on Land Use: Policies for a Net Zero UKThe IUCN UK Peatland Programme welcomes strengthened policy and legislative recommendations in the…
Multiple effects of peatland drainage
New resource available: Explaining the impact of peatland drainage.Illustrating the multiple effects of peatland drainage including implications for carbon emissions…
Managed burning of heather © North Pennines AONB
A burning issue: comparison between Australian & UK fire management misses the mark. The news of the ongoing Australian fires is deeply concerning both in terms of the impact on people…
IUCN Resolution 43 reporting
IUCN Resolution 43 reportingNew report on progress under IUCN Resolution 43: Securing the future of global peatlands available…
Langlands Moss Restoration works underway
Langlands Moss Restoration works underwayLanglands Moss Local Nature Reserve, on the south edge of East Kilbride, Scotland is set to be…
Snowdonia Society volunteers creating heather bale dams on the Migneint, Snowdonia. © Dan Struthers Photography
Working together for the future of Welsh peatlandsA major programme of works is underway this season to restore peatlands across Wales. A large…
European Peatland Strategies workshop - Bonn, Germany
European Peatland Strategies workshop - Bonn, Germany Over 30 representatives from across 12 European countries attended a workshop to examine existing…
Bog cotton landscape © Stephen Price
Peatlands and the climate emergency2019 has seen all four devolved governments across the UK declare a climate emergency which will…
Richard Payne
A tribute to Richard Payne The IUCN UK Peatlands Programme team were all saddened to hear the shocking news about the death of…
Image of sphagnum in pool © Joe Holden
Sphagnum is a key ingredient of natural flood managementIn 2008 iCASP published research that showed how water running over Sphagnum on blanket peatlands…
Image of V-notch in ply-sheet dam © Emma Shuttleworth
Peat restoration and natural flood managementThe Upland Environments Research Unit at the University of Manchester has been working closely with…