Peatland restoration project at Glenwherry aims to be more than just bog standard

Modified peatland loses considerable quantities of dissolved organic carbon which gives drainage water the distinctive peaty brown colour. Where peatland is part of a drinking water catchment this has to be removed at considerable cost to render water safe for drinking. Queens University students are monitoring the water quality of Glenwherry open moorland to compare with the forestry plots before and after peatland restoration.

AT the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise’s Glenwherry Hill Farm a block of conifer forest on deep peat is being cleared with the aim of restoring the land to actively accumulating peat.

With 18% of NI being peatland, how it is managed has a major impact on the many ecosystem services such as water quality, carbon balance, flood control and biodiversity that upland farms provide for Northern Ireland.

When forest yields are poor on deep peat, research shows that more carbon is being lost from sites than is being sequestered.

 

There are various methods which have been tried to restore peatland after deforestation but regardless of the method used ecosystem service delivery success hinges on being able to raise and maintain the water level to 10-15cm from the soil surface.

A successful peatland restoration site at Glenwherry could save up to 250 tons of CO2 equivalent emissions per year compared to remaining in poor yield class forestry, improve the water quality leaving the site and further enhance the considerable biodiversity achievements of the Glenwherry Hill Regeneration Partnership.

Peatland sites returned to good condition provide habitat for moorland plants, insects and for ground nesting moorland birds such as skylark, meadow pipit, and grouse, as well as an increased foraging habitat for hen harrier and merlin.

 

Farming the uplands has many facets and can provide more benefits to the community than is generally recognised.

Ecosystem services, from both upland and lowlands, are part of a varied programme which will be covered in the new Environmental Farming Business Development Groups (BDGs) currently open for application.

If you would like to be part of a local group of like-minded farmers looking at a wide range of environmental farming topics, then for more information on BDGs and how to apply visit: https://www.cafre.ac.uk/industry-support/business-development-groups/

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