Predicting restoration success in Irish cutover raised bogs

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George F Smith , William Crowley, John Cody, Francis Mackin , Hugh Cushnan

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The Living Bog Project is the largest raised bog restoration project undertaken in Ireland to date. Unlike earlier restoration efforts, this project has focused significant resources on restoring the cutover bog, where peat had been extracted in the past for fuel. Baseline surveys of the 12 raised bog sites mapped 770.7 ha of cutover and collected vegetation and environmental data in 234 plots. These data were used to define 16 cutover bog habitat types and also to characterize EU Habitats Directive Annex I active raised bog on cutover. Cutover restoration was accomplished primarily by drain blocking but also by constructing a limited number of berms to intercept surface water runoff over large areas. A hydrological model that predicts where active raised bog is likely to develop was used to target specific restoration measures. As the hydrological model was developed using parameters designed for uncut but often drained and desiccated raised bog, its predictive ability on cutover remained untested. An additional question is if pre-restoration habitat characteristics can better predict where active raised bog is likely to be restored on the cutover. A subset of the baseline plots was resurveyed 2-5 yr post-restoration. Plots were reassigned to the habitat types, and the likelihood of active raised bog developing in the future was assessed based on characteristics such as Sphagnum cover, water table and presence of indicator species. The predictive value of the hydrological model was evaluated and compared with that of pre-restoration habitat type and other vegetation and environmental characteristics.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program