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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: The impact of the Rural Environment Protection Scheme (REPS) on plant and insect diversity

Published source details

Feehan J., Gillmor D.A. & Culleton N.E. (2002) The impact of the Rural Environment Protection Scheme (REPS) on plant and insect diversity. Tearmann, 2, 15-28


This study is summarised as evidence for the intervention(s) shown on the right. The icon shows which synopsis it is relevant to.

Provide buffer strips alongside water courses (rivers and streams) Farmland Conservation

A replicated paired sites comparison in 1999 of grassland habitats on 30 farms in Counties Laois and Offaly, Ireland (Feehan et al. 2002) (same study as Feehan et al. 2005) found that fenced watercourse margins on Rural Environment Protection Scheme farms did not have higher numbers of plant species than unfenced watercourse margins on non-Rural Environment Protection Scheme farms. For watercourse margins (eight paired replicates) more plant species were found in unfenced than fenced margins (52 and 56 species on unfenced margins on Rural Environment Protection Scheme and non-Rural Environment Protection Scheme farms respectively, 50 and 48 species on fenced margins on Rural Environment Protection Scheme and non-Rural Environment Protection Scheme farms respectively). Watercourse margins were fenced to exclude grazing livestock. Plants were surveyed on one watercourse margin on each farm.

Exclude livestock from semi-natural habitat (including woodland) Farmland Conservation

A replicated paired sites comparison in 1999 of grassland habitats on 30 farms in Counties Laois and Offaly, Republic of Ireland (Feehan et al. 2002) (same study as (Feehan et al. 2005)) found that fencing of field and watercourse margins to exclude grazing did not benefit plant diversity. For watercourse margins (eight paired replicates) more plant species were found in unfenced than fenced margins (52 and 56 species on unfenced margins on Rural Environment Protection Scheme and non-Rural Environment Protection Scheme farms respectively, 50 and 48 species on fenced margins on Rural Environment Protection Scheme and non-Rural Environment Protection Scheme farms respectively). For field margins, fencing helped gappy hedges to re-establish and slightly increased the number of ground beetle species in margins. However, as the distance from the hedge to the fence increased (and the ungrazed margin became wider) the number of field margin plant species decreased. The authors recommend that fences to protect hedges should allow stock to graze underneath to maintain the field margin flora. Plants were surveyed in two hedgerows, their associated field margins and one watercourse margin on each farm. Ground beetles were surveyed in June and August.