Study

The effect of time, seeding and environment on outcomes of calcareous grassland restoration schemes in the North Downs, South Downs, South Wessex Downs, Chilterns and Cotswolds, southern England

  • Published source details Fagan K.C., Pywell R.F., Bullock J.M. & Marrs R.H. (2008) Do restored calcareous grasslands on former arable fields resemble ancient targets? The effect of time, methods and environment on outcomes. Journal of Applied Ecology, 45, 1293-1303

Actions

This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Sow grass seeds

Action Link
Grassland Conservation

Sow native grass and forbs

Action Link
Grassland Conservation

Restore/create species-rich, semi-natural grassland

Action Link
Farmland Conservation
  1. Sow grass seeds

    A paired, site comparison study in 2004 in 40 restored and 40 ancient grasslands in southern England, UK (Fagan et al. 2008) found that sowing grass seeds resulted in plant communities that were different from those of ancient grasslands or sites where natural regeneration was allowed. The plant community of restoration sites where grass seeds were sown was different from the plant communities of paired ancient grasslands, as well as the plant communities of restoration sites where both grass and forb seeds were sown, or where natural regeneration was allowed (results presented as graphical analysis). Between one and >20 years prior to the study, 40 ex-arable sites were seeded with grass seeds only (12 sites), grass and forb seeds (12 sites) or no seeds (natural regeneration; 16 sites). Each site was paired with the closest ancient grassland (0–9 km away; aged >200 years). All sites were grazed, and occasionally mown. In June–August 2004, the cover of plant species was estimated within 50 x 50 cm quadrats placed at 10 m intervals along a 100-m transect at each site.

    (Summarised by: Philip Martin)

  2. Sow native grass and forbs

    A paired, site comparison study in 2004 in 40 restored and 40 ancient calcareous grasslands in southern England, UK (Fagan et al. 2008) found that sowing grass and forb seeds resulted in plant communities similar to ancient grasslands and sites where natural regeneration was allowed. The plant community of restoration sites where grass and forb seeds were sown was similar to the plant communities of paired ancient grasslands and sites where natural regeneration was allowed, but was different from sites where grass seeds alone were sown (results presented as graphical analysis). Between one and >20 years prior to the study, 40 ex-arable sites were seeded with grass and forb seeds (12 sites), grass seeds only (12 sites) or no seeds (natural regeneration; 16 sites). Each site was paired with the closest ancient grassland (0–9 km away; aged >200 years). All sites were grazed, and occasionally mown. In June–August 2004, the cover of plant species was estimated within 50 x 50 cm quadrats placed at 10 m intervals along a 100-m transect at each site.

    (Summarised by: Philip Martin)

  3. Restore/create species-rich, semi-natural grassland

    A randomized, paired site comparison in five areas of southern England, UK (Fagan et al. 2008) found distinct differences in vegetation between restored and ancient chalk/limestone (calcareous) grasslands, even after 60 years. Sites seeded with just grasses remained dominated by a few grass species. Sites allowed to regenerate naturally moved towards the target plant community over time, although success was limited by proximity to ancient grasslands. Some features of restored grassland (such as the proportion of perennial plants) became more like ancient grasslands with increasing age. High soil phosphorus concentration (due to former fertilizer application) was detrimental to restoration. Forty restored grassland sites were randomly selected from all those available, to give equal representation in four age classes and the five areas (North Downs, South Downs, South Wessex Downs, Chilterns, Cotswolds). Sites were one to 103 ha in size. They were restored either by natural regeneration, seeding with grasses, or seeding with a flower-rich seed mix. All sites were grazed and some occasionally mown. Each was paired with an ancient grassland no more than 9.3 km away. Plants were surveyed in ten 0.25 m2 quadrats at each site, in summer 2004, and soil analysed in September 2004.

     

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