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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Restoration and recovery of Sphagnum on degraded blanket bog

Published source details

Rosenburgh A. (2015) Restoration and recovery of Sphagnum on degraded blanket bog. PhD Thesis. Manchester Metropolitan University.


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

Remove vegetation that could compete with planted peatland vegetation Peatland Conservation

A controlled study in 2010–2013 in a degraded, grassy blanket bog in England, UK (Rosenburgh 2015) reported that some sown Sphagnum moss survived in a plot where purple moor grass Molinia caerulea had previously been cut, but no moss survived in an uncut plot. This result was not tested for statistical significance. After three years, a plot that was flailed before sowing Sphagnum contained 28 Sphagnum clumps (0.03% cover). No Sphagnum survived in an adjacent plot that was not flailed before sowing. In October 2010, two adjacent 3 x 3 m plots were sown with flat-topped bog moss Sphagnum fallax, encapsulated in gel beads (400 beads/m2). Both plots were dominated by purple moor grass, but one was flailed (cut) before sowing. Grass litter was left in place. In September 2013, Sphagnum clumps were identified in each plot and their area was measured.

(Summarised by Nigel Taylor)

Add mosses to peatland surface Peatland Conservation

A replicated, paired, controlled, before-and-after study in 2010–2013 in a blanket bog in England, UK (Rosenburgh 2015) reported that Sphagnum moss established in 4 of 12 sown plots, mainly when bare fragments (rather than fragments in gel beads) were sown into existing vegetation (rather than onto bare peat). Before sowing, no Sphagnum was present. Of six grassy plots sown with Sphagnum, four contained the sown species after three years: three sown with bare Sphagnum fragments (251–450 Sphagnum clumps surviving; negligible cover) and one sown with Sphagnum in gel beads (two Sphagnum clumps surviving; negligible cover). Of six bare peat plots sown with Sphagnum, none contained the sown species after three years. Of 12 unsown control plots, nine contained no Sphagnum after three years but three, on grassy vegetation, contained 1–67 clumps. In May 2010, eighteen 25 m2 plots were established: three blocks of three on restored grassy vegetation, and three blocks of three on bare peat. In each block, one plot was sown with bare Sphagnum fragments (<1 cm thick layer), one was sown with Sphagnum fragments in gel beads (400 beads/m2) and one was not sown. However, all of these plots were mulched (with heather Calluna vulgaris brash). In August 2013, Sphagnum clumps were identified in each plot and their area was measured.

(Summarised by Nigel Taylor)

Add mosses to peatland surface Peatland Conservation

A replicated, paired, controlled study in 2009–2013 in a blanket bog in England, UK (Rosenburgh 2015) reported that Sphagnum moss established in 22 of 162 plots sown with moss/gel beads, but mainly when sown into existing vegetation (rather than onto bare peat). No statistical tests were carried out. After 1–3 years, Sphagnum clumps were present in 22 of 162 sown plots (1–288 clumps/plot or 0.06–18% of the number of beads sown). The survival rate was higher in plots with existing vegetation (natural: clumps present in 24% of sown plots; restored: clumps present in 15% of sown plots) than in bare peat plots (clumps present in 4% of sown plots). Forty adjacent unsown plots did not contain any Sphagnum. Between 2009 and 2012, gel beads containing Sphagnum fragments were sown onto a bog (4 m2 plots; 400 beads/m2). There were 1–3 plots for each combination of Sphagnum species (six options), sowing date (six options) and existing vegetation (three options: natural; restored grassy vegetation; bare peat). For each sowing date and vegetation type, some additional plots were left unsown. In August 2013, Sphagnum clumps were identified in each plot.

(Summarised by Nigel Taylor)

Add mosses to peatland surface Peatland Conservation

A replicated, paired, controlled study in 2010–2013 in a degraded, grassy blanket bog in England, UK (Rosenburgh 2015) reported that Sphagnum moss was present in 11 of 12 plots sown with moss/gel beads, but that cover was low. After three years, the 11 plots contained 4–98 discrete clumps of Sphagnum (0.25–6% of the number of beads sown). Sphagnum cover was <1% in all plots. Adjacent unsown plots did not contain any Sphagnum. In October 2010, fifteen 4 m2 plots were established (in three blocks of five) on a degraded blanket bog dominated by purple moor grass Molinia caerulea. For each of four Sphagnum species, three plots (one plot/block) were sown with moss fragments encapsulated in gel beads (400 beads/m2). The remaining three plots (one plot/block) were not sown. In all plots, grass was cut before sowing (litter left in place). In September 2013, Sphagnum clumps were identified in each plot and their area was measured.

(Summarised by Nigel Taylor)