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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Successful use of topsoil removal and soil amelioration to create heathland vegetation

Published source details

Allison M. & Ausden M. (2004) Successful use of topsoil removal and soil amelioration to create heathland vegetation. Biological Conservation, 120, 221-228


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

Strip topsoil Shrubland and Heathland Conservation

A randomized, replicated, paired, controlled study in 1993–2002 in three former grassland sites in the UK (Allison & Ausden 2004) found that removal of topsoil did not alter cover of heathland species or cover of forbs, but increased cover of annual grasses and led to a decrease in perennial grasses. After nine years, cover of heathland species and forbs did not differ significantly between areas where topsoil was removed (heathland species: 1%, forbs: 11%) and areas where topsoil was not removed (heathland species: 0%, forbs: 8%). Cover of annual grasses was higher in areas where topsoil was removed (13%) than in areas where it was not removed (1%). However, the cover of perennial grasses was lower in areas where topsoil was removed (22%) than in areas where topsoil was not removed (83%). In 1993 topsoil was removed from twelve 3 x 3 m plots while in twelve other plots topsoil was not removed. The cover of plant species in each plot was estimated in July and August 2002 using a point quadrat.

(Summarised by Phil Martin)

Strip/disturb topsoil (alongside planting/seeding) Shrubland and Heathland Conservation

A randomized, replicated, paired, controlled study in 1993–2002 in three former grassland sites in the UK (Allison & Ausden 2004) found that removal of topsoil and addition of heathland clippings increased cover of heathland species, did not alter cover of annual grasses, but led to a decrease in perennial grass cover. After nine years, cover of heathland species was higher in areas where topsoil was removed and clippings were added (58%) than in areas where topsoil was not removed and clippings were not added (0%). Cover of annual grasses was not significantly different in areas where topsoil was removed and clippings added (2%) and areas where topsoil was not removed or clippings added (1%). However, the cover of perennial grasses was lower in areas where topsoil was removed and clippings were added (6%) than in areas where topsoil was not removed and clippings were not added (83%). Heathland clippings were collected from an intact heathland in September 1996. In 1993 topsoil was removed from twelve 3 x 3 m plots while in another twelve plots topsoil was not removed. Clippings were spread on the plots where topsoil was removed in November 1996. The cover of plant species in each plot was estimated in July and August 2002 using a point quadrat.

(Summarised by Phil Martin)