As the forestry sector’s understanding of habitats and ecosystems has improved there has been an evolution in thinking about what should be planted, where and how.
It is now well accepted that trees can help to mitigate climate change by sequestering carbon. However, forestry operations on deep peatland can, in some circumstances, result in an overall release of carbon due to changes in the soil.
Therefore, on deep peats (which we define as soils with a peat layer exceeding 50cms in depth) forest managers need to consider the carbon impact of different management options alongside other priorities such as timber production, biodiversity and landscape.
Peatland management guidance
Forests and peatland habitats (PDF 1.8MB) – this guidance, published in 2000, sets out forestry policy and practice in relation to peatland habitats. Aimed at foresters, land managers and planners, it details the factors and process for evaluation of management proposals for forestry operations on peatland.
Forestry on peatland habitats - supplementary guidance (PDF 259KB) – this guidance, published in 2014, provides advice on how to address the carbon impact of forestry on deep peat alongside other priorities and interests. It offers a decision-making framework based on the likely carbon storage or release from different management options on deep peats, to complement the advice provided in the 2000 guidance.
We also produced a summary of the evolving science (PDF 74KB) that was used to inform the 2014 supplementary guidance.
Deciding future management options for afforested deep peatland (PDF 1.6MB) – this guide, aimed at forest managers and agents in Scotland, explains the principles, assessment methods and factors to consider when evaluating future management options for afforested peatland, including those required by the 2000 and 2014 guidance.
Guidance for forest managers within the Caithness and Sutherland Peatlands SAC/SPA (PDF 113KB) – this guidance provides advice on preparing forest plans and felling licences to address edge effects on Natura sites.