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Restoration of Sphagnum and restiad peatlands in Australia and New Zealand reveals similar approaches


Clarkson, B and Whinam, J and Good, R and Watts, C, Restoration of Sphagnum and restiad peatlands in Australia and New Zealand reveals similar approaches, Restoration Ecology, 25, (2) pp. 301-311. ISSN 1061-2971 (2017) [Refereed Article]

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© 2016 Society for Ecological Restoration

DOI: doi:10.1111/rec.12466


Peatlands in Australia and New Zealand are composed mainly of Restionaceous and Cyperaceous peats, although Sphagnum peat is common in wetter climates (Mean Annual Precipitation > 1,000 mm) and at higher altitudes (>1,000 m). Experimental trials in two contrasting peatland types—fire-damaged Sphagnum peatlands in the Australian Alps and cutover restiad bogs in lowland New Zealand—revealed similar approaches to peatland restoration. Hydrological restoration and rehydration of drying peats involved blocking drainage ditches to raise water tables or, additionally in burnt Sphagnum peatlands, peat-trenching, and the use of sterilized straw bales to form semipermanent "dam walls" and barriers to spread and slow surface water movement. Recovery to the predisturbance vegetation community was most successful once protective microclimates had been established, either artificially or naturally. Specifically, horizontally laid shadecloth resulted in Sphagnum cristatum regeneration rates and biomass production 3–4 times that of unshaded vegetation (Australia), and early successional nurse shrubs facilitated establishment of Sporadanthus ferrugineus (New Zealand) within 2–3 years. On severely burnt or cutover sites, a patch dynamic approach using transplants of Sphagnum or creation of restiad peat "islands" markedly improved vegetation recovery. In New Zealand, this approach has been scaled up to whole mine-site restoration, in which the newly vegetated islands provide habitat and seed sources for plants and invertebrates to spread onto surrounding areas. Although a vegetation cover can be established relatively rapidly in both peatland types, restoration of invertebrate communities, ecosystem processes, and peat hydrological function and accumulation may take many decades.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:cut over bog, fire, Houdinia flexilissima, hydrological restoration, invertebrates, Sphagnum cristatum, Sporadanthus ferrugineus, vegetation recovery
Research Division:Environmental Sciences
Research Group:Environmental management
Research Field:Environmental management
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Other environmental management
Objective Field:Other environmental management not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Whinam, J (Dr Jennie Whinam)
ID Code:115928
Year Published:2017
Web of Science® Times Cited:13
Deposited By:Geography and Spatial Science
Deposited On:2017-04-21
Last Modified:2018-05-21

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