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Keywords:

  • peatland;
  • disturbance;
  • classification;
  • Ireland

ABSTRACT

Northern peatlands have accumulated a carbon pool of approximately 455 to 547 GtC, and they can make significant contributions to national carbon fluxes. Ireland is an example of a northern latitude country where peatlands are of significance for carbon management. Peatlands in Ireland cover ~20 per cent of the Country and contain nearly two-thirds of the national soil organic carbon stock. Peatland disturbance was defined, and a framework for the classification of disturbance was developed. The classification process is subjective. To account for this, a survey was conducted among several peatland experts to determine if their opinions differed from the authors'. There was no significant difference between the authors' and the peatland experts' or among each of the peatland expert's opinions. A preliminary classification survey was carried out at 172 points (photos taken at 115). The results for the preliminary study were compared with those of the survey. The expert's average scores for less disturbed and more disturbed areas favourably compared with the results from the disturbance framework. This is a robust, quick and efficient method for assessing peatland disturbance and may be applied to peatlands throughout the globe. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.