Citizen ScienceAs part of supporting the general public to better understand wetlands and peatlands, CANAPE provided opportunities for amateur scientists to get involved in helping us gather data. This improved our understanding of the wetlands we manage, and provided educational opportunities for the public.
In the Broads National Park the Broads Authority worked with students to carry out hands on studies of the peat soils by carrying out peat surveys. The basic method involved driving a corer into the soil to extract a core. By pulling out meter long sections, overall a several meter long soil core can be constructed. As peat accumulates at a slow rate over the centuries, these cores are literally looking back into the history of the land.
In some places these can be more than 10m in length. As the cores are brought up to the surface, data relating to soil or peat type, depth and decomposition level is recorded. This information is being used by the Broads Authority to develop a data set of peat and clay depths beneath the marshes.
The cores provide a fascinating timeline of climatic and ecological history, exposing peat and clay layers laid down during two major marine inundations 2000 and 6000 years ago. Peat is formed of semi decomposed vegetation, which means it’s possible to find chunks of alder and willow that haven’t seen the light of day for thousands of years
Students taking a peat core.
The students taking the cores were able to enter the data into a specially developed app, allowing the data to be easily recorded and used to support future peat management solutions. The students were also taught about wetlands, their geology and ecology, and the importance of preserving them to prevent climate change.