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    Rewetting degraded peatlands for climate and biodiversity benefits: Results from two raised bogs
    Globally, peatlands are under threat from a range of land use related factors that have a significant impact on the provision of ecosystem services, such as biodiversity and carbon (C) sequestration/storage. In Ireland, approximately 84% of raised bogs (a priority habitat listed in Annex I of the EU Habitats Directive) have been affected by peat extraction. While restoration implies the return of ecosystem services that were characteristic of the pre-disturbed ecosystem, achieving this goal is often a challenge in degraded peatlands as post-drainage conditions vary considerably between sites. Here, we present multi-year greenhouse gas (GHG) and vegetation dynamics data from two former raised bogs in Ireland that were drained and either industrially extracted (milled) or cut on the margins for domestic use and subsequently rewetted (with no further management). When upscaled to the ecosystem level, the rewetted nutrient poor domestic cutover peatland was a net sink of carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) (−49 ± 66 g C m −2 yr −1 ) and a source of methane (CH 4 ) (19.7 ± 5 g C m −2 yr −1 ), while the nutrient rich industrial cutaway was a net source of CO 2 (0.66 ± 168 g C m −2 yr −1 ) and CH 4 (5.0 ± 2.2 g C m −2 yr −1 ). The rewetted domestic cutover site exhibited the expected range of micro-habitats and species composition found in natural (non-degraded) counterparts. In contrast, despite successful rewetting, the industrially extracted peatland did not exhibit typical raised bog flora. This study demonstrated that environmental and management variables can influence species composition and, therefore, the regeneration of species typical of natural sites, and has highlighted the climate benefits from rewetting degraded peatlands in terms of reduced GHG emissions. However, rewetting of degraded peatlands is a major challenge and in some cases reintroduction of bryophytes typical of natural raised bogs may be more difficult than the achievement of proper GHG emission savings.
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