Action: Reduce intensity of harvest (of wild biological resources)
Key messagesRead our guidance on Key messages before continuing
- One study evaluated the effects on peatland vegetation of reducing harvest intensity (of wild biological resources). The study was in a bog.
- Moss cover (1 study): One replicated, controlled study in a bog in New Zealand reported that Sphagnum moss cover was higher, three years after harvesting, when some Sphagnum was left in plots than when it was completely harvested.
Mechanical harvests can be intense, completely clearing vegetation from a peatland. Harvesting less intensely can increase the capacity of the peatland vegetation to recover. Harvesting by hand is often less intense, or allows better control of intensity (Zegers et al. 2006). Harvesting a smaller area or removing fewer plants leaves a larger population of plants to grow or spread into harvested gaps. Removing less of each plant (e.g. removing Sphagnum to a shallower depth) might avoid killing them and allow them to regrow (Díaz & Silva 2012). Low intensity harvests can often continue year after year.
Caution: In some fens and fen meadows, harvesting is important to maintain the diversity of desirable peatland species (Middleton et al. 2006).
Key peatland types where this action may be appropriate: bogs, fens/fen meadows, tropical peat swamps.
Díaz M.F. & Silva W. (2012) Improving harvesting techniques to ensure Sphagnum regeneration in Chilean peatlands. Chilean Journal of Agricultural Research, 72, 296–300.
Middleton B., Holsten B. & van Diggelen R. (2006) Biodiversity management of fens and fen meadows by grazing, cutting and burning. Applied Vegetation Science, 9, 307–316.
Zegers G., Larraín J., Francisca Díaz M. & Armesto J. (2006) Impacto ecológico y social de la explotación de pomponales y turberas de Sphagnum en la Isla Grande de Chiloé (Ecological and social impact of the exploitation of mosses and Sphagnum bogs on the island of Chiloé ; in Spanish). Revista Ambiente y Desarrollo, 22, 28–34.
Supporting evidence from individual studies
A replicated, controlled study in a bog in New Zealand (Whinam & Buxton 1997) reported that incompletely harvested plots regained Sphagnum moss cover more quickly than completely harvested plots. In plots where 30% of harvestable Sphagnum was left in place, Sphagnum cover was 90% after three years. In contrast, in plots from which all Sphagnum had been harvested, Sphagnum cover was only 50% after three years. No statistical tests were carried out and details of methods were not reported.