Mapping peatland drains using high-resolution satellite imagery

John Connolly, Nicholas Holden

Proceedings of the 14th International Peat Congress


draining, peatlands, satellite-imagery

Connolly, Holden 2012: Mapping peatland drains using high-resolution satellite imagery


Theme I.  Inventory, stratigraphy and conservation of mires and peatlands


Peatlands contain most of Ireland’s soil organic carbon (SOC) stock. In pristine peatlands carbon dioxide (CO2) is sequestered and stored however Ireland’s peatlands are extensively disturbed. They have been and are used for many various activities including fuel and electricity production, forestry and agriculture. The primary method of preparing a peatland for these activities is to drain it. Drainage lowers the water table and converts the peat from an aerobic to anaerobic environment leading to increased CO2 emissions. This research uses an object oriented approach to map peatland the extent of peatland drains on a low level Atlantic blanket bog area in North West Mayo. The bogs, particularly those located to the west of Bangor Erris were drained by Bord na Mona for the purpose of extracting
peat for fuel in the Bellacorrick powerstation. The peatland drainage network in this area is dense, each drain is ~1 meter in width and the drains are about 15 m apart. High resolution Geoeye-1 imagery is used. The image was acquired on the late August 2010. The image was analysed using the ArcGIS extension; Feature Analyst (FA), a blackbox object oriented method.
The result was the delineation of drains throughout the image. The development of this method could be useful for the identification of drains over large areas of remote peatlands.