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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Long-term consequences of grazing and burning on northern peatland carbon dynamics

Published source details

Ward S.E., Bardgett R.D., McNamara N.P., Adamson J.K. & Ostle N.J. (2007) Long-term consequences of grazing and burning on northern peatland carbon dynamics. Ecosystems, 10, 1069-1083


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

Use prescribed fire to control problematic plants Peatland Conservation

A replicated, paired, controlled study in 1954–2004 in a blanket bog in England, UK (Ward et al. 2007) found that repeatedly burned plots contained less total vegetation, shrub and bryophyte biomass than once-burned plots, but more biomass of grass-like plants. After 50 years, repeatedly burned plots contained less above-ground vegetation biomass (134 g/m2) than once-burned plots (297 g/m2). This included less biomass of shrubs (repeatedly burned: 236; once-burned: 116 g/m2) and bryophytes (repeatedly burned: 5; once-burned: 53 g/m2). In contrast, biomass of grass-like plants was significantly higher in repeatedly burned plots (13 g/m2) than once-burned plots (8 g/m2). In 1954, sixteen 1,000 m2 plots were established, in four blocks of four, in a historically grazed bog. All plots were burned once in 1954. Thereafter, eight plots (two plots/block) were burned every 10 years. The other plots were not burned again. Additionally, half of the plots were fenced to exclude sheep. In 2003–2004, live above-ground vegetation was cut from one 25 cm2 quadrat/plot, then dried and weighed. Samples were taken in spring, summer, autumn and winter. This study was based on the same experimental set-up as (1), (2) and (6).

(Summarised by Nigel Taylor)

Exclude or remove livestock from degraded peatlands Peatland Conservation

A replicated, paired, controlled study in 1954–2004 in a grazed and recently burned blanket bog in England, UK (Ward et al. 2007) found plots fenced to exclude sheep contained more total vegetation, shrub and bryophyte biomass than grazed plots, but similar biomass of grass-like herbs. After 50 years, above-ground vegetation biomass was greater in exclusion plots (240 g/m2) than grazed plots (192 g/m2). This included greater biomass of shrubs (mainly heather Calluna vulgaris; exclusion: 194; grazed: 161 g/m2) and bryophytes (mainly red-stemmed feather moss Pleurozium schreberi; exclusion: 37; grazed: 18 g/m2). However, exclusion and grazed plots contained similar biomass of grass-like herbs (mainly sheathed cottongrass Eriophorum vaginatum; exclusion: 10; grazed: 13 g/m2). In 1954, sixteen 1,000 m2 plots were established (in four blocks of four) on a grazed bog. Eight plots (two plots/block) were fenced to exclude sheep. The other eight plots remained open to summer grazing (0.04 sheep/ha). All plots were burned once in 1954, with half also burned every 10 years thereafter. In 2003–2004, live above-ground vegetation was cut from one 25 cm2 quadrat/plot, then dried and weighed. Samples were taken in spring, summer, autumn and winter. This study was based on the same experimental set-up as (2) and (8).

(Summarised by Nigel Taylor)