Physically exclude vehicles from peatlands

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

Study locations

Key messages

  • One study evaluated the effects on peatland vegetation of physically excluding vehicles from peatlands. The study was in a fen.
  • Vegetation structure (1 study): One replicated, paired, controlled, site comparison study in a floating fen in the USA reported that fencing off airboat trails allowed total and non-woody vegetation biomass to increase, recovering to levels recorded in undisturbed fen. Woody plant biomass did not recover.
  • Overall plant richness/diversity (1 study): The same study reported that fencing off airboat trails allowed overall plant diversity to increase, recovering to levels recorded in undisturbed fen.

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 replicated, paired, controlled, site comparison study in 2002–2005 in a floating fen in Alaska, USA (Zacheis & Doran 2009) reported that plots fenced off from airboats developed greater plant diversity and non-woody plant biomass than exposed plots, similar to natural fen vegetation. Comparisons with exposed plots were not tested for statistical significance. After three years, plant diversity in fenced plots was higher than in exposed plots, and not significantly different from diversity in natural plots (data reported as a diversity index). The same was true for total above-ground plant biomass (fenced: 149; exposed: 49; natural: 242 g/m2), sedge biomass (fenced: 92; exposed: 24; natural: 83 g/m2) and forb biomass (fenced: 50; exposed: 24; natural: 47 g/m2). In contrast, woody plant biomass had not recovered in fenced plots (fenced: 5; exposed: 0; natural: 110 g/m2). Three months after fencing, all measures were no different, or lower, in fenced plots compared to exposed plots. In March 2002, eight sets of three 3.25 m2 plots were established. In each set, one plot was in natural fen vegetation and two were in airboat trails. Airboats were excluded from one of these plots by erecting log tripods. In summer 2002–2005, vegetation was cut from one 25 x 25 cm quadrat/plot then identified, dried and weighed.

    Study and other actions tested
Please cite as:

Taylor, N.G., Grillas, P. & Sutherland, W.J. (2020) Peatland Conservation. Pages 367-430 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

Peatland Conservation

This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:

Peatland Conservation
Peatland Conservation

Peatland Conservation - Published 2018

Peatland Conservation

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