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Brilliant minds finding solutions to complex problems, made easy to understand. Making complex easy.

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peatland climate action scheme after restoration

Peatlands Climate Action Scheme

Bord na Móna have committed to one of the largest peatland rehabilitation and restoration projects ever undertaken, targeting 33,000 hectares in over 80 bogs. The Peatlands Climate Action Scheme (PCAS) aims to reduce carbon emissions, improve water quality, increase biodiversity and regulate flow downstream. To support them, we are providing Bord na Móna with hydrological expertise throughout the duration of the scheme.

peatland climate action scheme before restoration

Project name

Peatlands Climate Action Scheme

 

Client

Bord na Móna

Location

Ireland

 

Services provided:

- Hydrology

Challenge

The project has been designed to go significantly beyond Bord na Móna’s existing obligations to maximise rehabilitation of peat-forming vegetation types across the project area and therefore maximise ecosystem services benefits. This includes optimising conditions for converting these vast areas from a significant carbon source to a carbon sink, improving downstream water quality, dampening peak run-off rates to reduce frequency and magnitude of downstream flooding, enhancing biodiversity and creating socio-economic benefits through ecotourism and amenity developments.

From the outset of this project, there were significant challenges, not least in the scale of the rehabilitation works to be carried out over such a short duration. One of the key challenges for Bord na Móna was the need to consider potential hydrological impacts of the proposed rehabilitation measures on adjacent third-party lands. This required a rapid, yet robust methodology to be developed to adequately consider the hydrological risks and identify the need for remedial measures where necessary.

There was also a requirement to design and install a suitable hydrological monitoring regime to ensure adequate monitoring data was available prior to rehabilitation commencing in Spring/Summer 2021. This hydrological monitoring data was required to fulfill a number of key requirements including:

  • Collect baseline data on the hydrological setting of each site to inform rehabilitation design
  • Collect data prior to, during and post-rehabilitation to assist in determining the impact of specific rehabilitation measures (to inform future rehabilitation measure design)
  • Collect data prior to, during and post-rehabilitation which can be extrapolated across representative sections of the site to ensure that the site is on the correct anticipated trajectory.

Solution

Given the need to rapidly consider risks to third party lands, our team prioritised the development of drainage management plans (DMPs) over the installation of hydrological monitoring infrastructure. The DMPs utilised high resolution LiDAR data combined with detailed site-specific topographic surveys to consider the potential risk from the proposed rehabilitation measures and require solutions, such as the retention of some drainage features. We developed a robust methodology to enable assessment of risk of hydrological impacts which was submitted alongside each rehabilitation plan for approval to the scheme regulator, National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS). This involved a collaborative approach with the client to ensure efficient use of time and resources. Close liaison with Bord na Móna ensured that our team could carry out hydrological analysis rapidly and, if necessary, direct Bord na Móna to survey particular areas where any uncertainties remained.

Following initial DMPs development, we focused on the design of a suitable hydrological monitoring network that would address Bord na Móna’s and NPWS requirements. A network of monitoring wells and piezometers were installed, and a sub-set of wells instrumented with automated data logging equipment. The monitoring network consists of piezometer nests comprising phreatic monitoring wells to measure fluctuations in the water-table at the ground surface and deeper piezometers to investigate vertical and horizontal hydraulic gradients.

We also designed and installed the hydrological monitoring network across 60 out of the 80 bogs, with installation in the remaining 20 bogs scheduled for 2023. We complete all hydrological monitoring activities, collecting data from the monitoring wells during summer and winter months, followed by processing of this data and upload onto our project dashboard.

Our team have also undertaken hydrological analysis of the data collected and provide hydrological expertise to Bord na Móna to refine rehabilitation plans as the project progresses.

33,000

hectares of peatlands

80

bogs

80

drainage management plans

1,200 Over

monitoring wells installed to date

November 2020

Start date

December 2020

Hydrological monitoring infrastructure installation commenced

April 2021

Rehabilitation works commence (year 1 bogs)

April 2022

Restoration works commenced (year 2 bogs)

Ongoing

Completion date (scheduled Summer 2025)