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Peatland Conservation

Unit(s) of assessment: Geography, Environmental Studies and Archaeology

Research theme: Sustainable Futures

School: School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences


Peatlands provide a range of valuable ecosystem services and are priority habitats under the UK Biodiversity Action Framework. Much of our peatland has been damaged by drainage for agriculture or forestry and mining for horticulture or fuel, and many areas in the uplands are also subject to grazing and managed burning.

The Environment Team at the School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences (ARES) has been involved in a range of research related to the functioning, management and restoration of peatlands (both lowland raised bogs and upland blanket bogs). Research focuses on hydrology in relation to the preservation and restoration of peatland habitats and the impact of drainage on habitat conservation and human water supplies.

Several UK water companies have become increasingly concerned about rising levels of water colour (associated with dissolved organic carbon from upland peat) being experienced at their water treatment works. Labadz and Clutterbuck have undertaken a variety of research projects on the potential impact of land management on biodiversity and resultant water quality within related catchment areas.

Founders of recent peatland research include the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Defra, Natural England, the Environment Agency, the National Trust and Severn Trent Water. Work on developing and testing alternatives to peat as a substrate for horticultural use is also on-going.


Changes in water colour between 1986 and 2006 in the headwaters of the River Nidd, Yorkshire, UK: a critique of methodological approaches and measurement of burning management. Yallop AR, Clutterbuck B, Thacker J Biogeochemistry, 2011, DOI 10.1007/s10533-011-9628-5

Land management as a factor controlling dissolved organic carbon release from upland peat soils 2: Changes in DOC productivity over four decades. Clutterbuck B & Yallop AR, Science of the Total Environment, 2010, 408 (24), 6179-6191

Increases in humic dissolved organic carbon (hDOC) export from upland peat catchments: the role of temperature, declining sulphur deposition and changes in land management. Yallop AR, Clutterbuck B, Thacker J, Climate Research, CR Special 22 ‘Climate change and the British Uplands’, 2010, DOI:10.3354/cr0884

Vulnerability of upland peatland services to climate change. House J, Clark C, Gallego-Sala A, Orr H, Aylen J, Bardgett R, Billett M, Bonn A, Caporn S, Chapman S, Clutterbuck B, Evans C, Evans M, Farewell T, Freeman C, Grayson R, Hall J, Holden J, McMorrow J, Milledge D, Nayak D, Ostle N, Parry L, Prentice C, Stevens C, Smith J, Smith P, Vanguelova E, Ward S, Waldron S, White S, Worrall F, Yallop A, Environment Agency Science Report SC070036/SR, 2010

Blanket peat erosion and sediment yield in a southern Pennine upland reservoir catchment. Yeloff DE, Labadz JC, Hunt, C O, Higgitt DL and Foster IDL, Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 2005, 30, 717-733

The suitability of south Pennine (UK) reservoirs as archives of recent environmental change. Yeloff DE, Labadz JC and Hunt CO, Journal of Palaeolimnology, 2005, 34 (3), 339-348