ICG2022-95, updated on 20 Jun 2022
10th International Conference on Geomorphology
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Restoring gullied peatlands: Natural Flood Risk Management benefits from landscape scale restoration of the 'badlands of Britain'

Martin Evans1, Tim Allott1, Emma Shuttleworth1, Donald Edokpa1, Tim Howson1, David Milledge2, Joseph Holden3, Salim Goudarzi3, Martin Kay1, Joe Rees1, Adam Johnston1, Tom Spencer1, Ikenna Osumgborogru1, Richard Grayson, Jamie Freestone4, and Matt Scott-Campbell4
Martin Evans et al.
  • 1School of Environment, Education and Development (Geography), University of Manchester.
  • 2School of Engineering, University of Newcastle
  • 3School of Geography, University of Leeds
  • 4Moors for the Future Partnership, Edale

The dramatic badland landscapes of severely eroded peatlands represent significant degradation of the ecosystems, which when intact, provide a range of regulating ecosystem services including carbon sequestration and runoff regulation. Increasing efforts are being made to restore these landscapes through re-vegetation and gully blocking. Restoration has been driven by the aims of restoring biodiversity and carbon storage but the transformation of hillslopes and channels also has significant impacts on hillslope runoff. This paper reports on a major project from the uplands of the UK which has been studying the generation of hillslope runoff in restored peatlands and the potential to optimise restoration approaches to mitigate downstream flood risk. Peatlands are highly productive of runoff so that these approaches have the potential to deliver multiple benefits including Natural Flood Risk management for headwater communities.

Our work has demonstrated that whilst static storage of water behind gully blocks is one component of the NFM benefit, dynamic storage on hillslopes during storm events is enhanced by increased surface roughness in restored catchments and is the larger component of the overall NFM benefit. Gully blocks with pipes or slots which enable drawdown between storms maximise static storage whilst the planting of sphagnum moss dramatically increases dynamic storage on the hillslopes.

Taken together these data support the potential role of peatland restoration in NFM schemes and suggest that restoration of gully-eroded peatlands can deliver flood protection in headwater communities alongside wider benefits.

How to cite: Evans, M., Allott, T., Shuttleworth, E., Edokpa, D., Howson, T., Milledge, D., Holden, J., Goudarzi, S., Kay, M., Rees, J., Johnston, A., Spencer, T., Osumgborogru, I., Grayson, R., Freestone, J., and Scott-Campbell, M.: Restoring gullied peatlands: Natural Flood Risk Management benefits from landscape scale restoration of the 'badlands of Britain', 10th International Conference on Geomorphology, Coimbra, Portugal, 12–16 Sep 2022, ICG2022-95, https://doi.org/10.5194/icg2022-95, 2022.