Carbon landscapes

Measuring the benefits of peatland restoration projects.

Scottish Government’s Climate Change Plan places peatland restoration at the top of the agenda.

Peaty soils cover around 20% of our land, holding an equivalent of 140 years of greenhouse gas emissions. Unfortunately, it is estimated that 80% of our peatlands are damaged, in which case they lose more carbon than they capture. Peatland restoration not only restores water quality it improves carbon capture, mitigates flooding and drought while enhancing habitats for rare plants, insects and other wildlife. Forth-ERA’s approach is to measure and monitor carbon capture and release using satellites and on-the-ground sensors.

Objectives of monitoring carbon landscapes.

  • To measure the success of peatland restoration schemes in terms of changes to hydrology, vegetation, biodiversity, and carbon balance.
  • To validate carbon credits issued under the IUCN Peatland Carbon Code.

Five peatland restoration sites are being equipped with sensors, located in the Forth Valley region at; Glen Finglas, Tigh na Blair, Leadloch, Hare Moss and the iconic Flanders Moss.

Given the importance of peatland restoration to aid as carbon sinks, there is a reliance on scientific measuring and monitoring to track progress and plan interventions.

From space, satellite data will help measure peatland water table depth and carbon uptake. Sensors in the peatlands themselves act as a safety-net, qualifying the data.

Technical tools of the trade include:

  • A Licor Eddy covariance flux tower – takes direct measurements of CO2;
  • eosense automatic soil chambers – microscale fluxes of CO2 and CH4 from peat;
  •  eosense lower cost forced diffusion chambers - microscale fluxes of CO2 from peat;
  • HOBO meteorological stations with multi-depth soil moisture

The benefits of peat. Professor Jens-Arne Subke explains why restoring peatland is so essential.

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