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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Experimental restoration of a fen plant community after peat mining

Published source details

Cobbaert D., Rochefort L. & Price J.S. (2004) Experimental restoration of a fen plant community after peat mining. Applied Vegetation Science, 7, 209-220


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

Cover peatland with organic mulch (without planting) Peatland Conservation

A replicated, randomized, paired, controlled, before-and-after study in 2001–2002 in a historically mined bog in Quebec, Canada (Cobbaert et al. 2004) found that mulching with straw increased the number of fen-characteristic plant species but had no effect on fen-characteristic plant cover. Note that the aim of this study was to create a fen, as the post-mining peat chemistry was more like a fen than a bog. Before sowing, no vegetation was present. After two growing seasons, there were more plant species typical of local fens in mulched plots (8 species) than unmulched plots (5 species). Fen plant cover did not significantly differ between mulched (6%) and unmulched plots (10%). In spring 2001, eighteen 5 x 5 m plots were established, in three blocks of six. Nine plots (three random plots/block) were mulched with straw (1,500 kg/ha). The other plots were not mulched. All plots had previously been rewetted, raked and fertilised. None of these plots were sown. In August 2002, cover of every plant species was estimated in ten 30 x 30 cm quadrats/plot.

(Summarised by Nigel Taylor)

Rewet peatland (raise water table) Peatland Conservation

A before-and-after study in 2001–2002 in a historically mined bog in Quebec, Canada (Cobbaert et al. 2004) reported that fen-characteristic plant species appeared following rewetting. These results are not based on tests of statistical significance. Before rewetting, no vegetation was present. Six months after rewetting, six local fen-characteristic plant species were present. Sixteen months after rewetting, five fen-characteristic species were present. Cover of fen-characteristic plants was 2% six months after rewetting and 10% sixteen months after. Note that the aim of this study was to create a fen, as the post-mining peat chemistry was more like a fen than a bog. In April 2001, a bog was rewetted by blocking the main drainage ditch, unblocking a water supply ditch and building embankments downslope of the bog to retain water. Afterwards, the water table was 1–65 cm below the peat surface during the growing season. In October 2001 and August 2002, cover of every plant species was estimated in ninety 30 x 30 cm quadrats (ten in each of nine 5 x 5 m plots). None of these plots were sown.

(Summarised by Nigel Taylor)

Cover peatland with organic mulch (after planting) Peatland Conservation

A replicated, randomized, paired, controlled, before-and-after study in 2001–2002 in a historically mined bog in Quebec, Canada (Cobbaert et al. 2004) found that mulching plots sown with vegetation fragments increased the number of fen-characteristic plant species but had no effect on fen-characteristic plant cover. Note that the aim of this study was to create a fen, as the post-mining peat chemistry was more like a fen than a bog. Before sowing, no vegetation was present. After two growing seasons, there were more plant species typical of local fens in mulched plots (13–15 species) than unmulched plots (10–12 species). Fen plant cover did not differ between mulched (21–30%) and unmulched plots (23–32%). Mulching had similar effects in additional plots that were not sown with vegetation fragments (see intervention Add organic mulch without planting). In spring 2001, soil and vegetation from nearby moss or grass-dominated fens was spread onto thirty-six 5 x 5 m plots (arranged in three equal blocks). Eighteen plots (six random plots/block) were mulched with straw (1,500 kg/ha). The other plots were not mulched. All plots had previously been rewetted, raked and fertilised. In August 2002, cover of every plant species was estimated in ten 30 x 30 cm quadrats/plot.

(Summarised by Nigel Taylor)

Add mixed vegetation to peatland surface Peatland Conservation

A replicated, randomized, paired, controlled, before-and-after study in 2001–2002 in a historically mined bog in Quebec, Canada (Cobbaert et al. 2004) found that plots spread with peat and vegetation from donor fens developed greater cover and richness of fen-characteristic plant species than plots without added material. Before intervention, no vegetation was present. After sixteen months, plots spread with material from local fens had greater cover of fen-characteristic plants (21–32%) than plots that were not spread with material (6–10%). Plots spread with fen material also contained more fen-characteristic plant species (10–15) than plots that were not spread (5–8). Patterns were similar six months after sowing (see original paper). Note that the aim of this study was to create a fen, as the post-mining peat chemistry was more like a fen than a bog. In May 2001, 54 plots (each 5 x 5 m) were established, in three equal blocks, on a historically mined bog. Surface vegetation and soil from moss- or grass-dominated fens was spread onto 36 plots (12 random plots/block) but not the other 18 plots (three plots/block). All plots had been prepared by rewetting, raking and fertilizing. In October 2001 and August 2002, cover of every plant species was estimated in ten 30 x 30 cm quadrats/plot.

(Summarised by Nigel Taylor)