Vegetation cutting as a clean-up method for salt and brackish marshes impacted by oil spills: a review and case history of the effects on plant recovery

  • Published source details Zengel S.A. & Michel J. (1996) Vegetation cutting as a clean-up method for salt and brackish marshes impacted by oil spills: a review and case history of the effects on plant recovery. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 32, 876-885.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Cut or burn oil-contaminated vegetation: brackish/salt marshes

Action Link
Marsh and Swamp Conservation
  1. Cut or burn oil-contaminated vegetation: brackish/salt marshes

    A 1996 review of studies in brackish/salt marshes in the UK and the USA (Zengel & Michel 1996) reported mixed effects of cutting oil-contaminated vegetation on its recovery. Statistical significance was not assessed. Considering the eight cases that quantitatively compared cut and uncut areas in the field, the review suggests that cutting had no clear effect on vegetation abundance (density, biomass or cover) in four cases (50%) and a negative effect on vegetation abundance (biomass or cover) in four cases (50%). Across all 21 cases, the review suggests that “vegetation recovery” was positively affected by cutting in seven cases (33%), negatively affected by cutting in nine cases (43%), and not clearly affected by cutting in five cases (24%). These results should be interpreted carefully: the review does not report effect sizes, which may be more important than the number of studies reporting effects in a particular direction. Methods: The review included 21 cases, from 14 publications and at least 13 different marshes, in which oil-damaged vegetation in brackish/salt marshes was cut. Vegetation abundance, height or “recovery” (not clearly defined) were monitored between 14 weeks and 29 months after cutting (8–29 months after cutting for the eight quantitative studies).

    (Summarised by: Nigel Taylor)

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