Action: Build barriers to protect peatlands from the sea
Key messagesRead our guidance on Key messages before continuing
- We found no studies that evaluated the effects, on peatland vegetation, of building barriers to protect peatlands from seawater damage.
‘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.
Some peatlands are in low-lying and/or coastal areas (e.g. bogs in eastern Canada, fens in eastern England) and are therefore vulnerable to seawater flooding, either due to temporary storm surges or longer-term sea level rise. Peatlands with a lowered surface (as a result of peat extraction, compaction or subsidence) are especially vulnerable to flooding. Barriers could be built to separate the peatland from the sea.
If saltwater influx does occur, peatlands can be permanently damaged. Some peatland plant species, notably Sphagnum moss, cannot tolerate salinity (Ward 2013). Therefore, any restoration attempts might focus on introducing salt tolerant vegetation rather than attempting to restore the former peatland characteristic vegetation (e.g. Emond et al. 2016).
Key peatland types for which this action may be appropriate: bogs, fens/fen meadows, tropical peat swamps.
Related action: use artificial barriers to prevent pollution entering peatlands.
Emond C., Lapointe L., Hugron S. & Rochefort L. (2016) Reintroduction of salt marsh vegetation and phosphorus fertilisation improve plant colonisation on seawater-contaminated cutover bogs. Mires and Peat, 18, Article 17.
Ward A. (2013) Salinity tolerance of four bryophyte species Sphagnum palustre, Sphagnum subsecundum, Mnium hornum and Aulacomnium palustre, living in a sea-level fen. Masters thesis, Central Connecticut State University, USA.