Add cover other than mulch before/after planting non-woody plants: freshwater wetlands

How is the evidence assessed?
  • Effectiveness
  • Certainty
  • Harms

Study locations

Key messages

  • One study evaluated the effects, on vegetation, of adding cover other than mulch to freshwater wetlands planted with emergent, non-woody plants. The study was in Australia.




  • Tree/shrub abundance (1 study): One replicated, randomized, paired, controlled study in floodplain swamps in Australia found that covering plots with plastic or jute mats before planting native understory herbs increased their overall cover, one year later.
  • Individual species abundance (1 study): The same study found that covering plots with plastic or jute mats before planting native understory herbs reduced the cover of two problematic herb species, one year later.


About key messages

Key messages provide a descriptive index to studies we have found that test this intervention.

Studies are not directly comparable or of equal value. When making decisions based on this evidence, you should consider factors such as study size, study design, reported metrics and relevance of the study to your situation, rather than simply counting the number of studies that support a particular interpretation.

Supporting evidence from individual studies

  1. A replicated, randomized, paired, controlled study in 2014–2015 in a degraded floodplain swamp in Victoria, Australia (Greet et al. 2016) found that covering plots with plastic or jute matting before planting native understory herbs increased their cover. One year after planting, plots with mats had higher cover of native understory herbs (18–33%) than plots without mats (2–4%). Plots with mats also had lower cover of problematic reed canarygrass Phalaris arundinacea and common reed Phragmites australis (4–28%) than plots without mats (73–99%). Methods: In February–March 2014, six 100-m2 plots were established in each of two floodplain wetlands. All plots had been recently cut and sprayed with herbicide (to control reed canarygrass or common reed) and fenced to exclude large animals. Four plots (two random plots/site) received each cover treatment: plastic weed matting, jute matting, or no matting. All plots were then planted with native understory herbs (3 plants/m2; species not reported), plus shrubs (1 plant/m2) and tree seedlings (1 plant/2 m2). Holes were cut in the matting to allow planting. Vegetation was surveyed in March 2015, in five 1-m2 quadrats/plot.

    Study and other actions tested
Please cite as:

Taylor N.G., Grillas P., Smith R.K. & Sutherland W.J. (2021) Marsh and Swamp Conservation: Global Evidence for the Effects of Interventions to Conserve Marsh and Swamp Vegetation. Conservation Evidence Series Synopses. University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.

Where has this evidence come from?

List of journals searched by synopsis

All the journals searched for all synopses

Marsh and Swamp Conservation

This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:

Marsh and Swamp Conservation
Marsh and Swamp Conservation

Marsh and Swamp Conservation - Published 2021

Marsh and Swamp Synopsis

What Works 2021 cover

What Works in Conservation

What Works in Conservation provides expert assessments of the effectiveness of actions, based on summarised evidence, in synopses. Subjects covered so far include amphibians, birds, mammals, forests, peatland and control of freshwater invasive species. More are in progress.

More about What Works in Conservation

Download free PDF or purchase
The Conservation Evidence Journal

The Conservation Evidence Journal

An online, free to publish in, open-access journal publishing results from research and projects that test the effectiveness of conservation actions.

Read the latest volume: Volume 21

Go to the CE Journal

Discover more on our blog

Our blog contains the latest news and updates from the Conservation Evidence team, the Conservation Evidence Journal, and our global partners in evidence-based conservation.

Who uses Conservation Evidence?

Meet some of the evidence champions

Endangered Landscape ProgrammeRed List Champion - Arc Kent Wildlife Trust The Rufford Foundation Save the Frogs - Ghana Mauritian Wildlife Supporting Conservation Leaders
Sustainability Dashboard National Biodiversity Network Frog Life The international journey of Conservation - Oryx Cool Farm Alliance UNEP AWFA Bat Conservation InternationalPeople trust for endangered species Vincet Wildlife Trust