How does land management influence fire resilience and carbon fate in blanket bogs? The FIRE BLANKET Project

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Andersen, R., Felgate, S., Fernandez-Garcia, P., Gaffney, P., Gilbert, P., Hancock, M., Large, D., Leith, F., Marshall, C., Mayor, D., McIlveny, J., Monteith, D., Pickard, A., Sanders, R.

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Following a dry and warm spell, a wildfire burnt approximately 60 km2 of blanket bog in May 2019 within the Flow Country peatlands of North Scotland. Unlike other wildfires in the UK, it covered a large area that includes peatlands under a range of management regimes: drained, drained and afforested, under restoration (through forestry removal and drain blocking) and near-natural. As well as the breadth of management types, the fire covered an area of the Flow Country that is actively used for scientific research, where a wide range of prior data are available. This presented an unprecedented and urgent opportunity to quantify the interacting effects of fire, drought and human interventions on peatland C storage and water quality. The NERC-funded FIRE BLANKET project had as 3 main objectives: 1) To estimate the immediate C losses and the fire resilience of blanket bogs under different management regimes, including afforestation 2) To understand legacies of fire on the fate of the vast C store held in the peat and on the water quality by determining how the interplay between management and burning severity alters the postfire fate of dissolved organic matter, water quality and aquatic C exports from land to sea. 3) To develop future-proof management strategies for drained and afforested blanket bogs In this talk, we will present and discuss key preliminary results collected in 2019-2020 and relate them to other peatland wildfire research projects around the globe.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program