Peatlands have been subject to artificial drainage for centuries. This drainage has been in response to agricultural demand, forestry, horticultural and energy properties of peat and alleviation of flood risk. However, the are several environmental problems associated with drainage of peatlands. This paper describes the nature of these problems and examines the evidence for changes in hydrological and hydrochemical processes associated with these changes. Traditional black-box water balance approaches demonstrate little about wetland dynamics and therefore the science of catchment response to peat drainage is poorly understood. It is crucial that a more process-based approach be adopted within peatland ecosystems. The environmental problems associated with peat drainage have led, in part, to a recent reversal in attitudes to peatlands and we have seen a move towards wetland restoration. However, a detailed understanding of hydrological, hydrochemical and ecological process-interactions will be fundamental if we are to adequately restore degraded peatlands, preserve those that are still intact and understand the impacts of such management actions at the catchment scale
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