A 5 Year Study of Carbon Fluxes from a Restored English Blanket Bog

Friday, 19 December 2014: 11:50 AM
Fred Worrall, University of Durham, Durham, DH1, United Kingdom, Simon Dixon, University of Durham, Durham, United Kingdom and Martin Evans, University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom
This study aimed to measure the effects of ecological restoration on blanket peat water table depths, DOC concentrations and CO2 fluxes. In April 2003 the Bleaklow Plateau, an extensive area of deep blanket peat in the Peak District National Park, northern England, was devegetated by a wildfire. As a result the area was selected for large scale restoration. In this study we considered a 5-year study of four restored sites in comparison to both an unrestored, bare peat control and to vegetated control that did not require restoration. Results suggested that sites with revegetation alongside slope stabilisation had the highest rates of photosynthesis and were the largest net (daylight hours) sinks of CO2. Bare sites were the largest net sources of CO2 and had the deepest water table depths. Sites with gully wall stabilisation were between 5-8 times more likely to be net CO2 sinks than the bare sites. Revegetation without gully flow blocking using plastic dams did not have a large effect on water table depths in and around the gullies investigated whereas a blocked gully had water table depths comparable to a naturally revegetating gully. A ten centimetre lowering in water table depth decreased the probability of observing a net CO2 sink, on a given site, by up to 30%.

With respect to DOC the study showed that the average soil porewater DOC concentration on the restored sites rose significantly over the 5 year study representing a 34% increase relative to the vegetated control and an 11% increase relative to the unrestored, bare control. Soil pore water concentrations were not significantly different from surface runoff DOC concentrations and therefore restoration as conducted by this study would have contributed to water quality deterioration in the catchment. The most important conclusion of this research was that restoration interventions were apparently effective at increasing the likelihood of net CO2 sink behaviour and raising water tables on degraded, climatically marginal blanket bog. However, had water table restoration been conducted alongside revegetation then a significant decline in DOC concentrations could have also been realised.