Action: Reprofile/relandscape peatland (without planting)
Key messagesRead our guidance on Key messages before continuing
- One study evaluated the effects of reprofiling/relandscaping peatlands (without planting) on peatland vegetation. The study was in degraded bogs (being restored as fens).
- Plant community composition (1 study): One site comparison study in Canada reported that after five years, reprofiled (and rewetted) bogs contained a different plant community to nearby natural fens.
- Vegetation cover (1 study): The same study reported that after five years, reprofiled (and rewetted) bogs had lower vegetation cover (Sphagnum moss, other moss and vascular plants) than nearby natural fens.
Large scale relandscaping of a degraded peatland may create a more suitable environment for vegetation growth. In particular, local moisture levels could be raised by reprofiling the peat surface into basins (removing <30 cm of surface peat, and pushing this into ridges) or flat terraces (removing mounds that are too dry for colonization). Steep gully sides or eroding slopes can be reprofiled into shallower, more stable slopes.
Caution: Heavy machinery used for landscaping may churn and compress the peat soil, damaging its structure. Removing surface peat from bogs may expose fen peat, which has different chemical properties to bog peat and will not (in the short term) support bog vegetation (Lindsay & Clough 2016).
Key peatland types where this action may be appropriate: bogs, fens/fen meadows, tropical peat swamps.
Lindsay R.A. & Clough J. (2016) A review of the influence of ombrotrophic peat depth on the successful restoration of bog habitat. Scottish Natural Heritage Commissioned Report 925.
Supporting evidence from individual studies
A site comparison study in 2008–2014 in a historically mined bog in Quebec, Canada (Rochefort et al. 2016) reported that areas restored by creating terraces and embankments (and raising the water table) developed a different plant community to nearby natural fens, with less vegetation cover. These results were not tested for statistical significance. Note that the aim of this study was to create a fen, as the post-mining peat chemistry was more like a fen than a bog. Five years after intervention, the overall plant community composition of the restored areas was different from three nearby natural fens (data reported as a graphical analysis). In the restored areas, Sphagnum moss was absent (vs 15–25% in natural fens), other moss cover only 1% (vs 12–55%) and vascular plant cover only 24% (vs 59–86%). In winter 2009/2010, parts of a historically mined bog (abandoned for nine years) were reprofiled (pushing the top 30 cm of degraded peat into embankments) and rewetted (by blocking drainage ditches). The study does not distinguish between the effects of these interventions. Vegetation cover was estimated in 2008 (donor fen; in 16 quadrats along a transect) or 2014 (restored areas: in five 25 m2 plots).