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Durham University

Department of Earth Sciences


Publication details for Professor Fred Worrall

Worrall, F., Bell, M.J. & Bhogal, A. (2010). Assessing the probability of carbon and greenhouse gas benefit from the management of peat soils. Science of the Total Environment 408(13): 2657-2666.

Author(s) from Durham


This study proposes a method for assessing the probability that land management interventions will lead to an improvement in the carbon sink represented by peat soils. The method is able to: combine studies of different carbon uptake and release pathways in order to assess changes on the overall carbon or greenhouse gas budget; calculate the probability of the management or restoration leading to an improvement in the budget; calculate the uncertainty in that probability estimate; estimate the equivalent number of complete budgets available from the combination of the literature; test the difference in the outcome of different land management interventions; and provide a method for updating the predicted probabilities as new studies become available. Using this methodology, this study considered the impact of: afforestation, managed burning, drainage, drain-blocking, grazing removal; and revegetation, on the carbon budget of peat soils in the UK. The study showed that afforestation, drain-blocking, revegetation, grazing removal and cessation of managed burning would bring a carbon benefit, whereas deforestation, managed burning and drainage would bring a disbenefit.

The predicted probabilities of a benefit are often equivocal as each management type or restoration often leads to increase in uptake in one pathway while increasing losses in another.