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Case Studies > Dundreich Plateau Peatland Restoration Project

Rosebery Estate


Case Study Dundreich Plateau Peatland Restoration Project Rosebery Estate www.helpingithappen.co.uk
Case Study Dundreich Plateau Peatland Restoration Project The Moorfoot Hills project demonstrates how peatland restoration efforts can help build greater resilience to climate change impacts through the delivery of multiple ecosystem benefits, including natural flood management, improvements to water quality, biodiversity enhancement, and carbon sequestration and storage.

Located at the western edge of the Moorfoot Hills, approximately 3km south of Gladhouse Reservoir, Midlothian, the Dundreich Plateau SSSI Peatland Restoration Project was completed in February 2016. The project received £40,000 of funding through Peatland ACTION, an £8million Scottish Government funded programme for peatland restoration over 2012-2016, administered by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).

During the summer of 2015 a number of active drains were identified which, combined with a legacy of historical burning, were contributing to the unfavourable condition of the habitat. Overall, this had led to degradation of the peatland, leading to an impoverished cover of bog-mosses. There were also a number of gullies and peat hags, actively eroding through weathering effects. The potential to fund restorative work through Peatland ACTION was discussed with the Factor to the Earl of Rosebery & Lord Dalmeny, who was largely supportive of the idea. A site meeting was then arranged with the Estate’s Head Keeper to discuss the potential benefits that could be derived from restoring areas of the main blanket bog plateau, including a corresponding increase in invertebrate biomass to help support grouse chick survivability, as well as improved access across the site.

The total restoration area extended to 61ha, including 5.1km of drains to be blocked and re-profiled, 3.85km of eroding gully/hags to be re-profiled, and a number of timber sediment traps to be installed at various locations within gullies across the site.

The main objectives for restoration were to help restore the natural hydrology of the SSSI plateau and to improve the water-holding capacity of the blanket bog in order to help encourage Sphagnum development and reactivate the peat-building (and carbon sequestration) process. The drainage system was tackled using a combination of peat dams and drain re-profiling techniques so that no open drains could pose a risk to grouse chicks or grazing animals.

One of SNH’s national priorities is to meet a Scottish Government target of 80% of SSSI features in a favourable/recovering condition by March 2016, and this project helped to contribute to meeting this target.

Restoring the natural hydrology of the blanket bog has led to an increase in the amount of standing water across the restoration area and much more water is now retained across the plateau, thereby promoting the development of important bog-mosses. As the surface begins to recover and Sphagnum mosses begin to re-colonise and dominate once more, this will help reactivate carbon sequestration within the peat reserve, helping to redress the balance from a net source of atmospheric carbon to a more carbon-neutral or carbon-sequestering situation.

While it is too early to assess potential benefits of restoration on grouse chick survivability and overall grouse numbers, there is likely to be a corresponding increase in both the diversity and abundance of invertebrates recorded at the site as a result, which is likely to benefit both.
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