Botanæco has PhD level training in peat, peatlands & their management; and has contributed to national best practice & training. Throughout 2018-2020, a particular focus is the preparation of 'peatland feasibility studies' for SNH's Peatland Action and the Scottish Government's Agri-Environment Climate Scheme. In addition, Botanaeco is partner in a national review of the outcomes of these schemes.
All these studies require a holistic understanding of peatlands, their environment, agricultural management and people: and are expected to develop upon current best practice. Recently, Botanæco has been foremost in the use of Digital Terrain Models & water flow modeling; and in developing cost-effective approaches.
Botanæco has the technical capacity to assess peatland features above and below the surface including:
A wide variety of field and desk-based approaches to peat and peatland assessment has been used by Botanæco's Principal Botanist over the past 20 years, in academia, the planning system and for conservation purposes. They include standard methods, modified at times to fit unusual sites, and novel approaches where necessary.
The coherent baseline & assessment established by Botanæco can be handed over to engineers for design purposes, for example, or be used as the basis for management and/or restoration plans. These are routinely prepared by Botanæco for conservation purposes or for use within the planning system. As with Botanæco's general habitat management plans, those for peatlands are sensitive to the site's people and features; incorporate best practice, innovation where necessary; and integrate legislative requirements with those of an ecological & socioeconomic nature.
Management is challenging in a changing environment so plans are designed to be antifragile and responsive to the outcomes of associated monitoring. To assist this dynamic process, Botanæco produces a 'troubleshooting guide' to take account of singular, seasonal and longer-term variations. Tolerance of extremes is therefore considered more important than design to average conditions in our changing and increasingly extreme environment. It is also cost-effective to do it once, well.
Botanæco's Principal Botanist has an established track record of innovation in peatland management. A recurrent example is his application of a 'palaeoecological' approach to peatlands within the planning system, to assess their current condition against an historical baseline. A peatland associated with the Millennium Wind Farm, for example, was shown to be in a stable, increasingly wet condition over the past few centuries to the present, so funds were diverted to conservation elsewhere.
The synergy between peat, peatland and other environmental features makes Botanæco's Principal Botanist especially cost-effective because a holistic account is developed by a single, highly-trained and experienced specialist. When commissioned by Locogen at the end of 2017 to work on the North Uist Development Company's two turbine development, for example, the opportunity was identified to add value to the initially specified peat & GWDTE survey by gathering supplementary data on peatland features. These will form the basis of the peat & peatland management plan normally required by planning authorities and for a little extra expense, eliminated the cost of additional consultants' travel to this remote site.