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This virtual collection contains 12 papers from the Conservation Evidence journal on the conservation and restoration of wetland habitats.
Use of grazing and mowing to reduce the dominance of soft rush Juncus effusus in fen meadows in Scotland
Shellswell C.H. & Humpidge R. (2018), 15, 54-58
Three years of differing management regimes to reduce the dominance of soft rush Juncus effusus were undertaken at Moss Town Fen on the north-east Aberdeenshire coast, Scotland, UK. The effectiveness of grazing and mowing combinations of increasing intensity were trialled, from ungrazed and unmown management to continuous grazing and annual mowing for three years. Sward height and density, and rush cover were surveyed to examine the effect of the management combinations. Forb, grass, bryophyte and bare ground cover were also monitored to understand whether the management treatments had any effect on these sward components. Continuous grazing with konik ponies and at least two years of mowing (either consecutively or with a gap year) reduced rush the most. The treatments had no consistent effect on forb, grass or bryophyte cover, which may be due to a time lag between the reduction in rush cover and the germination and growth of these sward components. Bare ground cover was low, at less than 1% in most of the treatments, negating any concern that the grazing intensity was having a negative impact on the delicate fen habitat. Anecdotal observations on waterfowl and lesser butterfly orchid Platanthera bifolia support the benefits of a grazing and mowing regime to reduce rush dominance. These results also identified that a cost saving could be made by slightly reducing the intensity of management regime.
Vegetation response to the reintroduction of cattle grazing on an English lowland valley mire and wet heath
Groome G.M. & Shaw P. (2015), 12, 33-39
We report the results of a nine year study of the effects of restoring low-intensity cattle grazing on the post-fire recovery of vegetation on the lowland valley mire and wet heath of Folly Bog, Surrey, UK. Four distinct vegetation communities were studied, with repeated recording of quadrats (n = 652) inside and outside grazing exclosures. Species richness increased across the valley mire, largely as a result of grazing-induced decreases in purple moor-grass Molinia caerulea and litter and increases in bare ground. Uncompetitive liverworts and waterlogging tolerant graminoids were particularly favoured. Purple moor-grass and litter removal also encouraged the spread of bog-mosses Sphagnum spp., although trampling in the wettest vegetation resulted in locally severe damage to the moss layer. On the firmer substrates of the wet heath, there were no such deleterious trampling impacts. Here, both bog-moss cover and species richness increased significantly, largely due to suppression of shade-producing heather Calluna vulgaris and litter, and the maintenance of bare ground. Our results reveal that the resumption of low intensity cattle grazing had many positive conservation benefits. However, site managers need to consider grazing on a site-by-site basis and retain flexibility to change stocking times and levels as conditions dictate. Other forms of management to supplement grazing will most likely continue to be required.
Introduction of water buffalo Bubalus bubalis to recently created wetlands at Kingfishers Bridge, Cambridgeshire, England
Gulickx M.M.C., Beecroft R.C. & Green A.C. (2007), 4, 43-44
At a newly created wetland nature reserve in eastern England, a pair of water buffalo Bubalus bubalis was introduced with the aim of maintaining early successional habitats and creating a heterogeneous vegetation structure. The water buffalo grazed the required parts of the fen and reedbed, and created submerged tracks. These tracks may be used by fish to disperse into the reedbed and provide foraging areas for bitterns Botaurus stellaris.
Recovery of sections of river bank using willow Salix barriers along the River Cam at Kingfishers Bridge, Cambridgeshire, England
Gulickx M.M.C., Beecroft R.C. & Green A.C. (2007), 4, 45-48
Barriers made from willow Salix spp. bundles were installed along sections of the River Cam to protect the river banks from erosion. Subsequently, a more gently sloping river bank was created which was colonised by a range of riparian plants. These vegetated margins developed into an attractive wildlife habitat and are effectively protecting these river bank sections from further erosion.
The addition of artificial macrophytes in an attempt to improve water quality at Barton Broad, Norfolk, England
Kelly A. (2006), 3, 44-46
Artificial macrophytes have been suggested as a means of improving water quality by providing zooplankton refugia. Plastic brushes provided a short term reduction in phosphates as they were absorbed by the periphyton growing on the brushes. They also provided a refuge for invertebrates. After two years, the brushes became colonised by sponges, which greatly reduced their long term usefulness as invertebrate habitat.
Using pre-planted pallets to stabilise an area of nutrient rich silt at Cockshoot Broad, Norfolk, England
Kelly A. & Southwood R.R. (2006), 3, 68-70
Native wetland species were planted within coir pallets to encourage plant colonisation along a shallow wetland margin in an attempt to improve water quality. Although some species initially grew well they were unable to withstand a period of hot weather and low water levels.
Restoration of the littoral margin by removing trees from the lake edge at Cockshoot Broad, Norfolk, England
Kelly A. & Southwood R.R. (2006), 3, 71-72
Removal of overhanging alder Alnus glutinosa and grey sallow Salix cinerea carr from the edge of an East Anglian broad led to a vigorous growth of riparian plants around the water's edge.
The creation of a floating island of native vegetation at Barton Broad, Norfolk, England
Kelly A. & Southwood R.R. (2006), 3, 73-74
An island made of coir pallets supported by PVC floats was created with the objectives of producing an island of emergent vegetation and to cover a navigation hazard. Many of the planted species grew well and resulted in a reasonable cover of emergent vegetation. The island edges needed replanting where eroded by wave action.
Restoration of the littoral margin by removing trees around Hoveton Broad, Norfolk, England
Kelly A. & Southwood R.R. (2006), 3, 75-76
Removal of alder Alnus glutinosa and grey sallow Salix cinerea carr from the edge of Hoveton Great Broad led to restoration of vegetation around the littoral margin; after removal of trees from some of the wetland edge emergent littoral plants showed vigorous growth.
The creation of a new saline lagoon as part of a flood defence scheme at Freiston Shore RSPB Reserve, Lincolnshire, England
Badley J. & Allcorn R.I. (2006), 3, 99-101
A 15 ha saline lagoon was created in 2002 as part of a flood defence scheme at a site on the east coast of England. It has subsequently been used by a range of wintering and breeding waders and waterfowl.
Botanical monitoring of restored lowland wet grassland at Campfield Marsh RSPB Reserve, Cumbria, England
Lyons G. (2005), 2, 43-46
Former cattle-grazed grassland and arable land were converted into wet grassland by raising the water level. Over the next five years the vegetation shifted towards plant communities characteristic of wet grassland.
Raising water levels to revert arable land to grazing marsh at Berney Marshes RSPB Reserve, Norfolk, England
Lyons G. & Ausden M. (2005), 2, 47-49
At Berney Marshes RSPB Reserve, water levels were raised, foot drains were added, and grazing by sheep was introduced. The plant communities shifted towards communities' characteristic of lowland wet grassland. Breeding wading bird numbers increased in response to these habitat changes.