The impact of tracks on blanket peatland

There is an urgent need to understand the impact of both traditional and novel types of vehicle track on blanket peat and its hydrology. This is because moorland managers are keen to maintain access to their land but there are concerns that use of tracks could be detrimental to the condition of the peatland. However, evidence is lacking for impacts of tracks on peat properties and peat hydrology, let alone carbon cycling.  

Track construction is sought as part of grouse moor management, windfarm construction and other management activities and so there is wide interest in this project. As a result, funding has become available for a 3.5 year project which will:

1)    Monitor the effects of new experimental tracks (such as roll on mesh tracks) for different types and frequencies of vehicle use.

2)    Investigate the potential for the use of meshed surfaces to aid restoration and recovery of existing rutted routes.

3)    Determine impacts from existing traditional tracks such as stone track.

The above assessments will consider peat physical properties, hydrological processes and novel measurement methods for mapping or modelling spatial impacts. The research would involve examining the impacts of tracks in different topographic/slope settings and possibly different vegetation types/peat condition. 

Key partners in this project include the North Pennines AONB Partnership, Natural England and the Moorland Association who will form part of a project steering group.