Action: Stabilize peatland surface to help plants colonize
Key messagesRead 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).
Peatland plants may struggle to colonize loose bare peat. Seeds, spores or young plants can be washed or blown away. The peatland surface could be stabilized by pegging fibre netting (e.g. geojute) into the peat or applying fibre rolls to act as wind/water breaks. If made of organic material, these stabilizing aids should degrade once peatland vegetation has colonized.
Key peatland types where this action may be appropriate: bogs, fens/fen meadows, tropical peat swamps.
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.