Peat Restoration

We have recently been working on some peat restoration work on Great Tongue Rigg on Lampert farm.  This farm is also a SSSI,  a Site of Special Scientific Interest and so a special area for the bog plants and species.

A lot of detailed survey work was done in 2016 as eroding channels had been noted in the last SSSI condition survey.  On Great Tongue Rigg about 20 years ago some plywood dams had been installed, but water was now finding a way around the sides and underneath.  The dams had, however, done a great job at preventing further fragmentation of the peat.

Natural England

From the survey report, Natural England was able to bid for funding to revet all the plywood blocks with recycled plastic piling, and also to do some gully reprofiling and Sphagnum-rich brash harvesting and spreading.  The aim is to stop peat drying out and to cover bare peat, as otherwise, peat starts to give off carbon – whereas a healthy peat bog can absorb and lock away CO2.

 

Newcastle University

At the same time, students from Newcastle University have done a great deal of fieldwork on the site – every summer doing vegetation quadrats as well as a livestock tracking project – where sheep and cattle wear a collar that logs their location so we can see where they like to eat and drink.  Other fieldwork trips have been monitoring the establishment of the brash spreading and comparing sphagnum brash with wood chips. Find out more about this field work here.

Volunteers

Volunteers installed the first batch of plastic piling in the winter of 2017, including tasks where National Park volunteers worked side-by-side with Tyne Rivers Trust volunteers and also some staff volunteering days.  The plastic piling has to be transported out using a low ground pressure vehicle.  The revetment of the plywood was completed in winter 2018. Clumps of sphagnum have been relocated to bare areas and these are expected to grow well.

Monitoring

As you can see we have set up some photo monitoring points to see the changes.  Thank you to the landowner and the tenant farmer for co-operating with the peat work and to Natural England for funding it.

Reprofiling peat gullies

This is a technique which will help prevent peat erosion and heal the gully.

SSSI

We hope that all the hard work leads to an improved condition of the SSSI and keeps it as a special habitat for generations to come.  We will carry on monitoring the success of the practical work using these photo monitoring points and the student fieldwork.  We have learnt a lot about the peat restoration techniques and can apply this to other sites.

Despite the long hot summer, the scattered brash is starting to green up by September.  It covers the bare peat and stops it drying out, meanwhile the fragments of sphagnum can get a foothold and heather seeds can grasses can establish.

peat restoration work