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School of Geography

Tim Howson Tim Howson

Contact details

School of Geography
University of Leeds
University Road
Leeds LS2 9JT   UK



Project title

The hydrology, hydrochemistry and aquatic carbon flux associated with forest-to-bog restoration

Project overview

Since the 1940s and 50s, large scale afforestation in Great Britain has been one of the most marked land use changes in natural peatland landscapes through the planting of non-native coniferous trees (Curtis et al., 2014, Reed et al., 2009).  In the 1960s, this was accelerated by the development of improved cultivation and ploughing techniques which have been responsible for significant habitat loss and degradation of the peat (Anderson and Peace, 2017).  The UK Forestry Standard now discourages establishing new forestry on land with a peat depth greater than 50 cm and restoration work at designated sites is actively promoted.

The decision to restore previously afforested peatlands resulted from recognition of the biodiversity value of the former landscapes in their pristine state, and the important role they play in regulating climate change (Anderson et al., 2016).  Future policies on how to proceed require careful evaluation of the ecosystem services the different land uses offer in order to make informed decisions based on scientific evidence.  At present not all the evidence is available and many of the forests are reaching maturity which creates added pressure on the research community to provide the evidence base to shape future policy (Anderson et al., 2016).


This project aims to fill important knowledge gaps in quantifying differences in the hydrology and hydrochemistry between pristine, afforested and restored-formerly-afforested peatlands to assess the water regulatory ecosystem services they deliver.  It is important to establish the implications for flood risk, drinking water provisions and water quality that may affect aquatic biota.  Jointly funded by Forest Research and the University of Leeds, the study will expand on current monitoring of surface water quality at restoration sites in Scotland, by providing new information on the porewater chemistry, runoff and the physical and chemical properties of the peat for the different land uses.



Joint funded: Forest Research; University of Leeds

Conferences/training courses attended

  • Research Data Management Essentials – University of Leeds

Relevant work experience

Conservation Works Officer, Moors for the Future

2011 – 2017

  • Overseeing peatland conservation works
  • GIS mapping / analysing field data
  • Ensuring operations meet health and safety requirements
  • Liaising with stakeholders, contractors, partner organisations and the public
  • Ecological / Hydrological surveys
  • Site inspections

Education and Training

MSc Conservation & Land Management – Merit, Bangor University


MSc Computing, Bradford University


BSc (Hons) Measurement, Instrumentation, Printing & Photographic Technology - 2:1, Manchester Metropolitan University