Student: Donna Carless
Company: Brecon Beacons National Park Authority
Academic Supervisor: Dr B Kulessa & Prof Alayne Street-Perrott
Understanding the History of Peat Deposition in the Brecon Beacons to Improve Ecological Models
What attracted you to the KESS Project?
Developing a collaborative partnership with Swansea University in order to provide more added value derived from research on active peat bogs in the National Park.
The project title and content were developed collaboratively between the University and the National Park Authority, reflecting the aim of developing a better understanding of the history of carbon and peat deposition in the Park and in order to gauge better the rate of continuing carbon deposition and exchange during an era of human-accelerated global warming.
The Business Perspective
The Authority has developed a Research Prospectus in order to help it answer some crucial questions about the Park’s changing environment and the resilience of the communities living here, and this research contributes directly to that knowledge base. The eventual publication of peer-reviewed papers for this research will help to raise the Authority’s and the Park’s profile within the field of applied ecological research. This was the first time that this Authority entered a KESS studentship with a university.
Swansea University continues to maintain a regular and helpful research presence within the National Park. The CORS project evolved from discussions on how best to achieve added value research on raised bogs whilst avoiding the sort of disturbance that can be caused by ad hoc research.
Donna Carless has been very diligent, self-motivated and self-organised in undertaking the field research, which are bonuses for this Authority because we are able to rely on researchers and their supervisors, extending the Authority’s capabilities at limited cost to the Authority.
Employability – The CORS project has come at the right time, the zeitgeist for upland conservation is all about peat and carbon conservation. Understanding carbon exchanges is a difficult and resource-intensive area of research, not many people are doing it. Therefore Donna’s skills and research should garner her some good kudos within peatland conservation research.
The combination of field survey techniques, lab analysis, GIS analysis and stats will provide the world of peatland conservation with a useful model to emulate and test further; in the National Park Authority we look forward to benefiting from a bespoke technique that works within this landscape.
The field techniques, as well as the carbon budgets that will emerge from this research will help this Authority to better understand the volumes of carbon-rich peat in the Park, which in turn will help us to attract inward investment for peatland conservation.
There is plenty more of this research to be completed; the study sites merit further analysis and there are other raised bogs in the Park. A much larger challenge is to develop an analogous sampling and modelling method for blanket bogs.