Zoom into Soil: Peatlands of Scotland

Apr 6, 2022 | Videos

Supported by Visit Britain and Nature Scot, we welcome Andrew McBride and Rebekka Artz as they present their expert knowledge on the topic of Scottish peat.

With strong Government backing, peatland restoration in Scotland has made major progress in the last decade. In his presentation ‘Peatland Restoration in Scotland – Lessons to learn from the peat face’, Andrew considers what we can learn from this experience and with Climate Change impacts increasing, what we can do to respond more quickly in the future.

Peatlands across the UK currently release around 17.6 Mt CO2e per year (2019 data) instead of functioning as the net carbon sinks they could be, if all areas were in good ecological condition. The realisation of the scale of the problem has led to a significant increase in both public and private funding for peatland restoration efforts over the past decade. Investment is expected to ramp up rapidly in this current decade, the global UN Decade on Restoration. In her presentation ‘Optimising peatland restoration to achieve net zero’, Dr Rebekka Artz summarises the state of our knowledge on the emissions reductions that peatland restoration brings, in the short to medium term after management interventions and in terms of the likely stability of such emissions reductions in the light of climate change.

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Zoom into Soil: Soils, A Record of Our Past

We welcome Dr Ria Mitchell from the University of Sheffield to present ‘Palaeosols (fossil soils) as records of environmental, climatic and evolutionary change through geologic time’ and Lynne Gardiner from Wardell Armstrong LLP to present ‘What lies beneath?: Putting the senses back into the past’.

Fossilised soils, or palaeosols, are preserved in the geologic rock record for the past ~3 billion years. Therefore, they provide insight into ancient environmental, climatic, and evolutionary changes over this time and have become a well documented proxy in the literature. They provide a unique perspective of these Earth-wide processes because they form at the interface between the lithosphere, the hydrosphere, the atmosphere, and the biosphere, often preserving specific geochemical signatures of conditions at their time of formation. Dr Ria Mitchell’s talk is in two parts: the first detailing the geological record of palaeosols, and the second highlighting some specific time periods in the evolutionary history of life on land and how it is linked with soil/palaeosol evolution.

Environmental archaeology is an umbrella term for a suite of specialisms within archaeology. In her presentation, Lynne Gardiner provides an overview of the most common ones utilised within commercial archaeology. This overview will be the precursor to a more in-depth look at what materials may be present in the soils and sediments. By using examples of some of her projects, Lynne shows how this ecofactual material enables us to examine the palaeoecology of our landscapes.

Zoom into Soil: Soils in Scotland

Dr Allan Lilly, a Senior Soil Scientist, presents ‘The Soils of Scotland: An Overview’ and Ben Butler, a Digital Soil Mineralogist, presents ‘The Mineralogy of Scottish Soils’.