Action: Restore natural water level fluctuations
Key messagesRead our guidance on Key messages before continuing
- We found no studies that evaluated the effects, on peatland vegetation, of restoring natural water level fluctuations per se.
‘We found no studies’ means that we have not yet found any studies that have directly evaluated this action during our systematic journal and report searches. Therefore we have been unable to assess whether or not the action is effective or has any harmful impacts. Please get in touch if you know of such a study for this action.
The water table in peatlands may naturally move up and down depending on the season, rainfall events and regional ground-water levels. Management to maintain stable water levels, for example in fens used for agriculture, can lead to nutrient enrichment and reduced plant diversity. Nutrient enrichment can occur because of chemical reactions in dry peat (especially the release of phosphorous), or because input water used to control the water level contains nutrients (Lamers et al. 2002). Reinstating water level fluctuations could allow natural communities to recover.
Key peatland types where this action may be appropriate: bogs, fens/fen meadows, tropical peat swamps.
Related action: rewetting, which may restore a naturally fluctuating water table without examining the effect of these fluctuations per se.
Lamers L.P.M., Smolders A.J.P. & Roelofs J.G.M. (2002) The restoration of fens in the Netherlands. Hydrobiologia, 478, 107–130.