Abandon cropland: allow brackish/saline marshes or swamps to recover without active intervention
Overall effectiveness category No evidence found (no assessment)
Number of studies: 0
Background information and definitions
It may be possible that marshes or swamps will recover on their own, without any active intervention, if human activities are stopped. Such passive recovery can be cheaper than active intervention and allow development of a community well adapted to local conditions. However, plant colonization may not occur at all or, if it does, occur slowly or be dominated by invasive species (Zahawi et al. 2014). Successful recovery may be hindered by physical degradation (e.g. a water table that is too low, restricted tidal exchange), chemical degradation (e.g. acidification of wetland soils when exposed to oxygen) or an insufficient supply of propagules.
To be summarized as evidence for this action, studies must have monitored cropland that has been abandoned (farming activities completely stopped, with no additional intervention) with the expectation that marshes or swamps could recover. Therefore, the summarized evidence is best considered as an indication of what kind of vegetation can develop in abandoned cropland, and how long it takes to develop, rather than a complete survey of all relevant evidence. The outcome of abandonment could be very different depending on whether it occurs after a final clearance of crops or not; both options are within the scope of this action.
Related actions: Abandon plantations; Abandon aquaculture facilities; Exclude or remove livestock from historically grazed sites (freshwater marshes – brackish/salt marshes – freshwater swamps – brackish/saline swamps); Raise water level to restore/create habitats from other land uses (freshwater marshes – brackish/salt marshes – freshwater swamps – brackish/saline swamps); Modify farming practices in watershed, including abandonment of cropland (freshwater marshes – brackish/salt marshes – freshwater swamps – brackish/saline swamps).
Zahawi R.A., Reid J.L. & Holl K.D. (2014) Hidden costs of passive restoration. Restoration Ecology, 22, 284–287.