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Ditch network maintenance in peat-dominated boreal forests: Review and analysis of water quality management options

Abstract

The objective of this study was to evaluate the potential of different water management options to mitigate sediment and nutrient exports from ditch network maintenance (DNM) areas in boreal peatland forests. Available literature was reviewed, past data reanalyzed, effects of drainage intensity modeled, and major research gaps identified. The results indicate that excess downstream loads may be difficult to prevent. Water protection structures constructed to capture eroded matter are either inefficient (sedimentation ponds) or difficult to apply (wetland buffers). It may be more efficient to decrease erosion, either by limiting peak water velocity (dam structures) or by adjusting ditch depth and spacing to enable satisfactory drainage without exposing the mineral soil below peat. Future research should be directed towards the effects of ditch breaks and adjusted ditch depth and spacing in managing water quality in DNM areas.

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Nieminen, M., Piirainen, S., Sikström, U. et al. Ditch network maintenance in peat-dominated boreal forests: Review and analysis of water quality management options. Ambio 47, 535–545 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-018-1047-6

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Keywords

  • Drained peatlands
  • Nitrogen
  • Phosphorus
  • Suspended solids
  • Water quality