Study

Survey of moorland and hay meadows in Dartmoor ESA

Actions

This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Maintain species-rich, semi-natural grassland

Action Link
Farmland Conservation

Maintain upland heath/moorland

Action Link
Farmland Conservation
  1. Maintain species-rich, semi-natural grassland

    A randomized, replicated before-and-after trial in England (Defra 2004b) found that the conservation value of hay meadows in the Dartmoor Environmentally Sensitive Area increased during the nine years following its introduction in 1994. Eighteen randomly chosen Environmentally Sensitive Area hay meadows (with agreements aimed at habitat enhancement) were surveyed in June-July 1995 and 2003. Most hay meadows increased in conservation value, with the biggest improvement seen in poorer quality sites. There was an overall increase in plant species richness and the vegetation became closer to that of meadows characterized by crested dog’s tail Cynosurus cristatus and common knapweed Centaurea nigra (MG5 under the UK National Vegetation Classification Scheme). This was accompanied by a general trend of declining soil fertility and a narrowing of the difference in nutrient availability between sites (particularly potassium).

     

  2. Maintain upland heath/moorland

    A randomized, replicated before-and-after trial in England (Defra 2004) found that the average heather Calluna vulgaris cover on 50 moorland sites in the Dartmoor Environmentally Sensitive Area decreased from 10.3% in 1994, when the scheme was introduced, to 7.7% in 2003. This was accompanied by an increase in grazing pressure, as measured by a heather grazing index. These trends were most pronounced on acid grassland habitats, where heather cover was lowest. The tier of Environmentally Sensitive Area managements (indicating whether management is aimed at maintenance or enhancement of habitats) had little effect on these changes, and there was little evidence of any heather recovery.

     

Output references

What Works in Conservation

What Works in Conservation provides expert assessments of the effectiveness of actions, based on summarised evidence, in synopses. Subjects covered so far include amphibians, birds, terrestrial mammals, forests, peatland and control of freshwater invasive species. More are in progress.

More about What Works in Conservation

Download free PDF or purchase
The Conservation Evidence Journal

The Conservation Evidence Journal

An online, free to publish in, open-access journal publishing results from research and projects that test the effectiveness of conservation actions.

Read the latest volume: Volume 17

Go to the CE Journal

Subscribe to our newsletter

Please add your details if you are interested in receiving updates from the Conservation Evidence team about new papers, synopses and opportunities.

Who uses Conservation Evidence?

Meet some of the evidence champions

Endangered Landscape Programme Red List Champion - Arc Kent Wildlife Trust The Rufford Foundation Save the Frogs - Ghana Bern wood Supporting Conservation Leaders National Biodiversity Network Sustainability Dashboard Frog Life The international journey of Conservation - Oryx British trust for ornithology Cool Farm Alliance UNEP AWFA Butterfly Conservation People trust for endangered species Vincet Wildlife Trust