Access across open moorland presents a dilemma: vehicles travelling across deep peat can cause damage while stone tracks can alter the all-important movement of water through the peat and have a visual impact on the landscape.
We are coordinating a research project with Natural England, the Moorland Association and the University of Leeds to test alternatives to heavily engineered stone roads across blanket peat.
Plastic matting has been laid across a peatland in the North Pennines as an alternative to stone tracks. Track usage is simulated as if it had been laid on an active grouse moor estate. It was driven over regularly using a agro-cat, at times weighted to simulate passengers.
Vegetation and hydrological data was measured for two years during the project by a PhD student. The data was analysed and the project was written up during 2017. The final summary report can be found here