Conservation Evidence strives to be as useful to conservationists as possible. Please take our survey to help the team improve our resource.

Providing evidence to improve practice

Action: Maintain/restore water flow across service corridors Peatland Conservation

Key messages

Read our guidance on Key messages before continuing

  • One study evaluated the effects on peatland vegetation of restoring water flow across service corridors. The study was in a fen.
  • Characteristic plants (1 study): One before-and-after study in a fen in the USA found that following restoration of water inflow across a road (along with general rewetting), cover of wet peatland sedges increased whilst cover of grasses preferring drier conditions decreased.

Supporting evidence from individual studies


A before-and-after study in 2002–2004 in a degraded fen in California, USA (Patterson & Cooper 2007) found that after water flow was restored across a road (along with general rewetting), cover of peatland-characteristic sedges increased whilst cover of grass species preferring drier conditions typically decreased. Cover of three sedge species characteristic of wet peatlands increased (two significantly or marginally so), from 12–15% before rewetting to 13–20% one year after. Cover of three grass species that prefer drier conditions decreased (two significantly), from 2–6% before rewetting to 1–5% one year after. In July 2003, 21 channels were created across a road that blocked surface water flow into the fen. At the same time, the main drainage ditch of the fen was dammed. The study does not distinguish between the effects of these interventions. Vegetation cover was estimated in July before (2002) and after (2004) intervention, in fifty-nine 10 m2 plots.

Referenced papers

Please cite as:

Taylor N.G., Grillas P. & Sutherland W.J. (2019) Peatland Conservation. Pages 375-438 in: W.J. Sutherland, L.V. Dicks, N. Ockendon, S.O. Petrovan & R.K. Smith (eds) What Works in Conservation 2019. Open Book Publishers, Cambridge, UK.