The effects of peatland restoration and on-site forest materials on water quality

Dyke restoration siteSummary

Different management techniques are employed to deal with tree material generated during clearfelling on peatland restoration and wind farm development sites. Where timber is not deemed suitable for sale, the preference in many cases is to leave the tree material on-site often as mulch (chipped) or brash. This collaborative project is investigating whether the restoration techniques lead to negative environmental impacts on soil and water quality and, subsequently, on ecology and river morphology. We have two experimental sites, one on the RSPB’s Forsinard Flows Reserve and the other in the River Oykel catchment on the National Forest Estate.

Benmore site map

Research objectives

  • Investigate the effects of peatland deforestation on water quality focusing on material left in-situ.
  • Explore management options to reduce nutrient runoff from restoration sites.
  • Interpret the results in terms of potential impacts upon aquatic ecology and the carbon balance.
  • Assess whether there is a need for improved guidance on best practice for forest removal during peatland restoration.

Results so far

Baseline data is now being collected


The project began in 2017.

Related Products/Services

The results will assess the need for improved guidance on best practice for peatland restoration by clearfelling.


Nadeem Shah

Funders and partners

  • Forestry Commission
  • Forest Enterprise Scotland
  • Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA)
  • Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB)
  • Strath Halladale Partnership

This research is primarily funded by the Forestry Commission delivering resilient forests research programme and through Service Level Agreements with Forestry Commission Scotland and Forest Enterprise Scotland.

Forestry Commission policy

Protection of the water environment is a key element of sustainable forestry and this research directly supports the Forestry Commission policy of achieving sustainable forest management in the UK.

In addition Country Forestry Strategies ( Scotland , England, and Wales ) identify the need to protect and enhance water resources with the water related aims based on the EU Water Framework Directive (2000), which establishes the principal framework for protecting and improving the water environment.