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Providing evidence to improve practice

Action: Stabilize peatland surface to help plants colonize Peatland Conservation

Key messages

Read our guidance on Key messages before continuing

  • One study evaluated the effects of stabilizing the peatland surface (without planting) on peatland vegetation. The study was in a bog.
  • Vegetation cover (1 study): One controlled, before-and-after study in a bog in the UK found that pegging coconut fibre rolls onto almost-bare peat did not affect the development of vegetation cover (total, mosses, shrubs or cottongrasses).

Supporting evidence from individual studies


A controlled, before-and-after study in 2007–2010 in a degraded blanket bog in England, UK (Anderson et al. 2011) found that adding coconut fibre rolls to stabilize the peat surface had no effect on vegetation cover. Comparing data from before intervention and three years after, vegetation cover increased by a similar amount in areas with and without the rolls. This was true for total vegetation cover (with rolls: from 6 to 10%; without: from 15 to 20%), moss cover (with rolls: from 0 to 1.0%; without: from 0 to 2.5%), dwarf shrub cover (with rolls: from 0.5 to 1%; without: from 0.5 to 4%) and common cottongrass Eriophorum angustifolium cover (with rolls: from 1 to 3%; without: from 4 to 7%). In March 2007, coconut fibre rolls were pegged onto an area of almost-bare peat to stabilize it. An adjacent area was left untreated. Sheep were excluded from both areas before the study began. In 2007 (before intervention) and 2010, vegetation cover was estimated in thirty 2 x 2 m quadrats/area.

Referenced papers

Please cite as:

Taylor N.G., Grillas P. & Sutherland W.J. (2019) Peatland Conservation. Pages 375-438 in: W.J. Sutherland, L.V. Dicks, N. Ockendon, S.O. Petrovan & R.K. Smith (eds) What Works in Conservation 2019. Open Book Publishers, Cambridge, UK.