Experimental evidence for sustained carbon sequestration in fire-managed, peat moorlands

Marrs, RH ORCID: 0000-0002-0664-9420, Marsland, E-L, Lingard, R, Appleby, PG ORCID: 0000-0002-6945-1841, Piliposyan, GT, Rose, RJ, O'Reilly, J, Milligan, G, Allen, KA ORCID: 0000-0003-3270-5817, Alday, J
et al (show 4 more authors) (2019) Experimental evidence for sustained carbon sequestration in fire-managed, peat moorlands. Nature Geoscience, 12 (2). pp. 108-112.

[img] Text
Marrs.NGS-2017-08-01869A.Final.Paper.UoL.Elements.docx - Author Accepted Manuscript

Download (1MB)


Peat moorlands are important habitats and in the boreal region, where they store ca. 30% of the global soil C. Prescribed burning on peat is a very contentious management strategy widely-linked with loss of carbon. Here, we quantify the effects of prescribed burning for lightly-managed boreal moorlands and show the impacts on peat and C accumulation rates are not as bad as is widely thought. We used stratigraphical techniques within an unique replicated, ecological experiment with known burn frequencies to quantify peat and C accumulation rates (0 managed burns since ca. 1923, 1-burn, 3-burns, 6-burns). Accumulation rates were typical of moorlands elsewhere, and were only reduced significantly in the 6-burn treatment. However, impacts intensified gradually with burn frequency; each additional burn reduced the accumulation rates by 4.9 g m-2 yr-1 (peat) and 1.9 g C cm-2 yr-1 but not preventing accumulation. Species diversity and the abundance of peat-forming species also increased with burn frequency. Our data challenge widely-held perceptions that a move to zero burning is essential for peat growth, and show that appropriate prescribed burning can both mitigate wildfire risk in a warmer world and produce relatively fast peat growth and sustained C sequestration.

Item Type: Article
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 14 Nov 2018 11:33
Last Modified: 19 Jan 2023 01:13
DOI: 10.1038/s41561-018-0266-6
Related URLs:
URI: https://livrepository.liverpool.ac.uk/id/eprint/3028632