Action: Add water to peatlands to compensate for drought
Key messagesRead our guidance on Key messages before continuing
- We found no studies that evaluated the effects, on peatland vegetation, of adding water to peatlands to compensate for drought.
‘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.
Peatland vegetation can only grow in wet areas. The plants depend on the water itself, but also the chemistry of wet peat (if peat dries out, acidity and nutrient levels can change though chemical reactions; Lamers et al. 2002). As a short-term intervention to compensate for drought, water could be diverted to peatlands (e.g. from rivers; Roelofs 1991).
Caution: Peatland vegetation is very sensitive to water quality (Rydin & Jeglum 2013). To avoid altering the chemistry of the peatland, a suitable water source must be chosen: of the correct pH (not too acidic, not to alkaline) and with no unusual nutrients/chemicals. Note that bogs receive their water only as rain, so ground water addition should be avoided if possible.
Key peatland types where this action may be appropriate: bogs, fens/fen meadows, tropical peat swamps.
Related actions: rewetting, as a more long-term intervention; interventions to address wild fires, which could be associated with droughts i.e. thinning vegetation; rewetting; building fire breaks; adopting zero burning policies near peatlands; increasing 'on-the-ground' protection; raising awareness about wild fires.
Lamers L.P., Smolders A.J.P. & Roelofs J.G.M. (2002) The restoration of fens in the Netherlands. Hydrobiologia, 478, 107–130.
Roelofs J.G.M. (1991) Inlet of alkaline river water into peaty lowlands: effects on water quality and Stratiotes aloides L. stands. Aquatic Botany, 39, 267–293.
Rydin H. & Jeglum J.K. (2013) The Biology of Peatlands, Second Edition. Oxford University Press, Oxford.