Peatland Restoration

Masterpile in Peatland Restoration and Grip Blocking

Masterpile has been used for many years now in the construction of dams for ditch blocking in peatland habitats. Particularly for wide and deep dams and faster flowing water ditches, where a peat dam/borrow pit isn’t an option, Masterpile sheet piling offers a solution. It’s benefits include:-

  • Lightweight therefore – easy to transport & handle
  • Can be cut with a hand or electric saw, if after driving in you need to cut the top to level off the dam
  • Easy to install – slide clutches together and drive with rubber mallet
  • Causes minimal disturbance to the site where the dam is being constructed
  • Interlocking piles – can be particularly useful when blocking wide or deep dams, creating an almost water tight seal very quickly
  • Plastic dams are not prone to drying and cracking in dry periods like peat dams
  • Can be driven deep into the peat, to block those difficult to access deep down drains, where water is being lost from the ecosystem

Moorland gripping is a practice of digging ditches to drain wet areas of heath and blanket bog. Gripping was a widespread practice in the upland in the 1960’s-1980’s It is now considered that the changes this caused to these habitats can be detrimental to the characteristic vegetation and species as well as increasing the risk of soil erosion and flash flooding. Grip blocking can help restore these natural drainage patterns, encourage re-vegetation, reduce erosion and minimise the knock-on effects of hydrological change downstream. Grip blocking helps restore the characteristic community of plants and can provide important feeding habitat for birds.

Celebrating Bogs

A bog is as subtle as landscape gets. At first glance it might present as a monochrome horizon, a brown soup of unrelieved dullness. Look closely. The careful eye can tease out paisleys of colour and form. There are blue and green lichens in shapes like antler horns or tiny trumpets. Bogs are home to purple moor grass, vermilion cranberries, beetles, badgers, skylarkes, and red deer, which bathe in peat to shed flies.

In addition to a startling array of life, bogs harbour mystery and death. Hundreds of bodies have turned up in northern Europe. In 1952, a peat digger in Denmark found a man who died at age 34 – throat slit from ear to ear – in a bog. Conditions in the sodden sphagnum moss had preserved the body, hair and nails intact, for 2,300 years. Experts now suspect that Grauballe Man, as he is known, was a victim of ritual sacrifice, not murder as once thought.

About 990 million acres of peatlands remain on five continents. They are disappearing fast. Large scale cutting of  peat for fuel, harvesting of sphagnum for horticulture, and draining of wetlands threaten most of Europe’s remaining bogs.

The potential loss extends beyond the evidence of past civilizations and distinctive plants. Not only do bogs help control water levels in surrounding areas, they also collect and store carbon from the atmosphere. The world’s peatlands may contain more carbon than is currently in Earth’s entire atmosphere. As bogs disappear, carbon is released. Destruction of Siberian bogs alone could unleash billions of tons of greenhouse gases. There is little mystery about the consequences of that.

Editor’s Note – National Geographic September 2007 . Vol.212. No 3