A framework for the restoration of degraded peatlands


Environmental Protection Agency

A framework for the restoration of degraded peatlands

Project Reference:

Gill Laurence

University of Dublin, Trinity College (TCD)


SRIA Themes:

Start Date:

End Date:

Approximately 20% of the landcover in Ireland is formed by peat substrate, ranging from raised bog complexes, peat extraction operations, upland blanket bogs and afforested areas. Though this is a significant landcover spread, most peatland habitats, even those considered intact, are not actively accumulating peat (< 3%). Peatlands that can be restored to active peat forming conditions are considered degraded. The Habitats Directive necessitates that degraded peatlands are restored to active ecosystems and the Water Framework Directive requires the protection of their supporting water-bodies. The primary objective of the proposed research is to develop a framework that outlines the methodology and actions to be undertaken when attempting to restore peatland ecosystems to active peat-forming conditions. Research will focus primarily on quantifying the hydrological conditions necessary to sustain the vegetation that permits peat formation and carbon sequestration. Using this information, together with ecological and greenhouse gas data, the restoration framework will evaluate the range of ecosystem services peatland typologies can provide, the hydrological mechanisms and thresholds providing those services and the impacts of pressures on ecosystem functioning. Prioritisation of potential sites for restoration will be based on evaluating the value of the potential ecosystem services and the engineering practicalities of remediation. A key outcome will be a Peatland Restoration Framework guideline document for policy makers on the ecosystem service criteria of peatlands, the techniques and instruments necessary for criteria measurement and the range of engineering restoration options for peatland typologies, including a cost-benefit feasibility analysis. A significant contribution will also be made to the EPA's national greenhouse gas inventory. By the close of the study period, a minimum of three articles will be submitted for peer-review on three key topics: (1) Ecosystem service provision; (2) Eco-hydrology-carbon dynamics; and (3) Peatland restoration.

Peat substrate; Degraded; Water Framework directive; Methodology; Restoration study