Action: Bury upper layer of peat/soil (without planting)
Key messagesRead our guidance on Key messages before continuing
- We found no studies that evaluated the effects, on peatland vegetation, of burying the upper layer of peat or soil (without planting afterwards).
‘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.
Damaged peatlands may be covered by a layer of non-peat soil. Alternatively, the surface peat may contain excess nutrients or a seed bank of undesirable plants (e.g. left over from agricultural use), or may be too acidic (e.g. as a result of atmospheric deposition). Burying this upper layer (and any vegetation on it) under deeper peat layers, for instance by deep ploughing, could make these nutrients inaccessible to plants and prevent undesirable plants from growing. It will also create bare peat with spaces for plants to colonize (Glen et al. 2017). By replacing the surface layers under the deeper peat, the ground level could be maintained.
Caution: Soil burial may be unsuitable for wetter peatlands as heavy machinery involved may churn and compress the peat soil. Burying 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.
Glen E., Price E.A.C., Caporn S.J.M., Carroll J.A., Jones L.M. & Scott R. (2017) Evaluation of topsoil inversion in UK habitat creation and restoration schemes. Restoration Ecology, 25, 72–81.
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.