Partnership project assess the peat damage in Teesdale
An exciting project that utilises the latest drone technology is helping to revitalise and restore damaged areas of land in Teesdale.
The North Pennines AONB Partnership’s Peatland Programme, in collaboration with Northumbrian Water Ltd and Newcastle University, is working on a new research project that involves using a drone to take aerial photos of damaged peatlands.
Launched Above Lunedale
The unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) was launched into the skies above Lunedale recently to take high resolution and near-infrared images of an area of severely damaged peat in a bid to better understand what work needs to be done and where.
Taking photographs that will have up to a 10cm resolution, this means that an object the size of a mobile phone will be able to be identified from the images. The project should make it possible to detect and map different bog plants that are growing on the site, based on the colour and photosynthetic activity revealed by the images.
Alistair Lockett, Field Officer, with the AONB Partnership, said: “Our first attempt ended in disappointment because the Teesdale winds were too much for the drone. However, when we came out to Lunedale for a second time the weather was perfect.”
Revegetate eroded areas
Northumbrian Water Catchment Adviser for the Pennines, Rob Cooper, said: “By using drones and utilising different imaging cameras, this research will improve our understanding of areas of bare eroded peat at the top of our drinking water catchments, helping us to understand and plan work to re-vegetate those areas suffering the greatest erosion.”
Unique type of habitat
There are around 900 square kilometres of peatland in the North Pennines and most of this is blanket bog, a unique type of peat habitat, found only in cool, wet regions of the world. About 27% of England’s blanket bog can be found in the North Pennines and peatlands are important because they play a variety of roles from maintaining our drinking water quality and storing carbon, to supporting local employment.
This new venture should help to make the process of mapping the area for future restoration work a lot more accurate, efficient and far less labour intensive.
Dr Rachel Gaulton of Newcastle University, said: “Drones, or UAVs, let us collect data on both the vegetation and terrain over potential restoration sites quickly and, through the images, provide a permanent record of conditions. We are looking forward to continuing to work with the AONB Partnership and Northumbrian Water to use these methods on other sites in the future”
The research work was carried out by Newcastle University and the AONB Partnership hopes it can secure funding to use this technology on other bare peat sites across the North Pennines.
Released: 22 November 2016