Re-route paths to reduce habitat disturbance

How is the evidence assessed?
  • Effectiveness
  • Certainty
  • Harms

Study locations

Key messages

  • One before-and-after trial in Australia found that closing paths did not alter shrub cover, but did increase the number of plant species in an alpine shrubland.

About key messages

Key messages provide a descriptive index to studies we have found that test this intervention.

Studies are not directly comparable or of equal value. When making decisions based on this evidence, you should consider factors such as study size, study design, reported metrics and relevance of the study to your situation, rather than simply counting the number of studies that support a particular interpretation.

Supporting evidence from individual studies

  1. A before-and-after trial between 2001 and 2011 in alpine shrubland in Victoria, Australia (de Bie & Vesk 2014) found that closing paths to reduce habitat disturbance increased the number of plant species, but did not alter shrub cover. After paths were closed former tracks had a higher number of plant species (15 species) than prior to paths being closed (12 species), as well as a higher number of species than areas that were adjacent to paths (12 species). Shrub cover on tracks did not differ significantly before (22%) or after (21%) closure, and this was not significantly different to adjacent areas (33%). Before path closure shrubs in areas adjacent to tracks were taller (26 cm) than those on tracks (17 cm) but after closure there was no significant difference in shrub heights between areas adjacent to tracks (14 cm) and former tracks (20 cm). Horse riding tracks were closed in 2001. In 2001 and 2011 vegetation cover was surveyed using forty 25 m2 plots. Plots were either placed on tracks or directly adjacent to tracks.

    Study and other actions tested
Please cite as:

Martin, P.A., Rocha, R., Smith, R.K. & Sutherland, W.J. (2020) Shrubland and Heathland Conservation. Pages 483-525 in: W.J. Sutherland, L.V. Dicks, S.O. Petrovan & R.K. Smith (eds) What Works in Conservation 2020. Open Book Publishers, Cambridge, UK.

Where has this evidence come from?

List of journals searched by synopsis

All the journals searched for all synopses

Shrubland and Heathland Conservation

This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:

Shrubland and Heathland Conservation
Shrubland and Heathland Conservation

Shrubland and Heathland Conservation - Published 2017

Shrubland and Heathland synopsis

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