Welsh Peatlands Project (Sustainable Management Scheme)

June 10, 2021

Explore the Welsh Peatlands Project (SMS) on the Projects Map

Welsh Peatlands Project (SMS) map

Which of the many peatland benefits is your project focused on enhancing or conserving?


The Welsh Peatlands SMS project conducted and supported all types of peatland restoration across Wales, from stock management to hagg re-profiling to re-wetting. This restoration benefited several peatland ecosystem services but carbon was a major focus for many of our sites. 


Which of the UK Peatland Strategy goals (conservation, restoration, adaptive management, sustainable management, coordination, communication) is your project helping to deliver?


Restoration & adaptive management: The project conducted restoration activities (hagg re-profiling, ditch and gully blocking, conifer felling) across approximately 780ha of peatland, covering peatlands as diverse as large upland blanket bogs, lowland raised bogs, Molinia-dominated peatlands, and afforested deep peat. We also helped facilitate restoration activities across a further 420ha of peatlands with our project partners and stakeholders. At a number of sites this restoration work was done in conjunction with changes in management, generally change in grazing regime. For example, fencing, gates and cattle grids were installed to allow either the replacement of sheep with cattle, or the introduction of cattle or ponies on a site. 

Sustainable management: A major goal of the project was to use, and help develop, the Peatland Code. This ensures the long-term sustainable management of a peatland over a minimum of 30 years. We worked with project partners to validate five Peatland Code sites across Wales, two of which have already entered into carbon finance agreements. We also commissioned a ‘Peatland Code in Wales’ report that investigated the current use, reception and barriers of the Peatland Code – this helped shape how the Peatland Code will be used in Wales and, hopefully, at a UK level too. In addition to this, we worked with project partners to investigate the current and future use of PES schemes for peatland ecosystem services – another avenue for long-term peatland sustainable management. 

Coordination and communication: We worked with a number of project partners and stakeholders to achieve the goals of this project. Not only did we effectively restore several peatlands through this collaboration, we also designed and implemented two peatland survey protocols (one of which is currently being adopted by all three Welsh National Parks), coordinated research efforts and collaboration across Wales, worked with project partners to explore and improve the Peatland Code and PES schemes, conducted a series of school teaching sessions and public engagement events, and of course took part in the IUCN UK Peatland Programme Conferences.


What would you like to highlight as the projects top three achievements to date?

 

  • Restoring / helping to restore over 1200ha of damaged peatlands and in doing so gaining the first Peatland Code validation in Wales.
  • Creating a LANTRA approved Peatland Practitioner course through the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. Sadly, we couldn’t run the first course due to Covid-19, but it is ready to launch.
  • Coordinating peatland efforts across Wales and collaborating well with a number of different organisations and institutions – something that will continue on as the long-lasting legacy of this project.


Have there been any lessons learnt along the way that you would like to share?


Communication is key at any level. In a large project such as this, it is important that the various project partners, different branches of the project, and the project team are kept up-to-date with progress and updates. However, communication is also important on the small scale, particularly with contractors and landowners. Increasingly, we found that the more a landowner or contractor understood about peatlands and their restoration, the happier everyone was and the smoother the whole process. We also found communication with other projects led to more collaborative work and idea sharing, and therefore building capacity in Wales rather than competition.


Are there any resources you have found useful or produced that you think might help other peatland projects?

 

  • Peatland Rapid Assessment Protocol (produced in conjunction with UKCEH): this is a simple protocol to rapidly assess peatland condition, vegetation and peat depth across a large site. It ties in with earth observation (satellite) data, and also acts as a ground-truthing data check to further improve earth observation algorithms. It’s a great way to assess peatland condition and is based on the Peatland Code field protocol, so can be used across potential Peatland Code sites. Data from this protocol is being collected from across Wales (and the wider UK) and will feed into a national peatland condition database.
  • Peatland Monitoring Manual (produced in conjunction with UKCEH – soon to be released): this builds on the Rapid Assessment Protocol and is intended to provide a guide for peatland monitoring design, implementation and reporting. It focuses on three priority aspects of peatland condition; water, biodiversity and carbon. It aims to unify actions being taken across peatland management through the development of a decision making toolkit with core methods for every monitoring activity to undertake.
  • The Peatland Code Process – How To Guide: produced by one of the project officers, this guide pulls together the essentials on how to apply for Peatland Code validation, including what the validation body is looking for, essentials vs. desirables, and a tick list of what to send off. As the Peatland Code is still developing and evolving, this will need updating regularly.

Explore the Welsh Peatlands Project (SMS) on the Projects Map

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