Caption: Site visit on Bampton Common with Cumbria Wildlife Trust
One of the questions we get asked a lot at Dalefoot Composts is ‘how exactly can you repair a peat bog?’ Today Laura, our peatland restoration co-ordinator writes about the pioneering work we do at Dalefoot Composts on peat bog sites up and down the country…
Following historical drainage operations and commercial mining of peat for horticulture, 80% of our country’s peat bogs are in a very degraded state. This means that there is miles and miles of exposed dry, cracked black peat which is leaking carbon into the atmosphere as we speak.
At Dalefoot Composts, when we come to restore a peat bog, the first thing we look at is the hydrology of the bog – how wet is it? Good hydrology of a bog means that in summer months a bog will stay wet and in winter months, it doesn’t flood - no extreme water levels. There are a number of techniques that enable us to manage the hydrology of the bog better – for example we can block up historical drainage ditches and install different types of weirs or pipes to help regulate the water levels.
After we have fixed the hydrology, we need to cover the bog back over so the black peat is no longer exposed to the atmosphere. We can do this by introducing peat-forming mosses and grasses, and planting certain types of plants. Sphagnum Moss is our top plant to re-introduce on a peat bog – it’s a miracle plant! Peat is actually made out of Sphagnum moss, it decomposes down into peat at a rate of 1mm per year. Sphagnum can also hold 20 times its own weight in water as well as being a natural filtering system which catches any peat particles before they get washed away into streams and rivers. Sphagnum has a huge role to play in flood alleviation so it’s a great plant to have thriving in the countryside.
To work on a peat bog, you need some pretty unusual machinery to stop your workforce from sinking into the bog! We modify our big diggers and tractors so that their weight is spread over a very large area with extra wide tracks, ending up with a footprint lighter than yours. This means that our operators don’t get that sinking feeling!
We are pleased to work with South West Water, Peatland Action, The Tweed Forum, Upstream Thinking and Natural England on our restoration sites.
At Dalefoot Composts, we always try and restore a bog in the most sustainable way. This means that we do not undertake any work that requires a helicopter lift or any imported materials such as Coir from Sri Lanka as we have deemed this to have too large a carbon footprint alongwith too many environmental and social issues in it's production. It also goes without saying, but we never plant any plug plants on our restoration sites that have been grown in peat – why would we want to damage one peat bog to restore another one?! We know that we can provide restoration in an eco-conscious way that won’t have a huge environmental impact when our main objective is to be actually restoring the environment!
Just another reason to buy PEAT FREE!