Mow shrubland to reduce impacts of pollutants

How is the evidence assessed?

Source countries

Key messages

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 controlled study in 1998-2000 in a heathland site in Surrey, UK (Barker et al. 2004) found that mowing to reduce the concentration of pollutants did not alter the cover or shoot length of heather Calluna vulgaris relative to areas where prescribed burning was undertaken. After two years, heather cover did not differ significantly between mowed areas (77–88% cover) and areas where prescribed burning was undertaken (83%). Additionally, heather shoot length did not differ significantly between mowed areas (14–16 cm) and areas where prescribed burning was undertaken (14 cm). In 1998 eight 16 m2 plots were mowed and four plots were burned. Vegetation cover and shoot length were estimated every year in 1998-2000.

    Study and other actions tested
  2. A randomized, replicated, controlled study in 1998-2000 in a lowland heathland site Surrey, UK (Power et al. 2001) found that mowing to reduce the impact of nitrogen deposition did not alter the shoot length of common heather Calluna vulgaris or the number of purple moor grass Deschampsia flexuosa seedlings when compared to prescribed burning. In areas that were mowed common heather shoot length did not differ significantly (13-15 cm) from shoot length in areas where prescribed burning was used (13 cm). The number of purple moor grass seedlings did not differ significantly between areas that were mowed and areas that where prescribed burning was used (mowed: 1-1.5 seedlings/plot; burned: 1.6 seedlings/plot). In January 1998 four 4 x 4 m plot were established. Nitrogen was added to each plot as a mist of ammonium sulfate to simulate nitrogen deposition. Each plot was divided into four subplots, two of which were mowed, one of which was burned using prescribed burning methods, and one of which was burned to simulate a wildfire. Shoot length and cover were measured in 25 points in each subplot in October 1998-2000. Seedlings establishment was recorded in September 1999.

    Study and other actions tested
Please cite as:

Martin P.A., Rocha R., Smith R.K. & Sutherland W.J. (2018) Shrubland and Heathland Conservation. Pages 447-494 in: W.J. Sutherland, L.V. Dicks, N. Ockendon, S.O. Petrovan & R.K. Smith (eds) What Works in Conservation 2018. Open Book Publishers, Cambridge, UK.

Where has this evidence come from?

List of journals searched by synopsis

All the journals searched for all synopses

Shrubland and Heathland Conservation

This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:

Shrubland and Heathland Conservation
Shrubland and Heathland Conservation

Shrubland and Heathland Conservation - Published 2017

Shrubland and Heathland synopsis

What Works in Conservation

What Works in Conservation

What Works in Conservation assesses the research looking at whether interventions are beneficial or not. It is based on summarised evidence in synopses, on topics such as amphibians, bats, biodiversity in European farmland, and control of freshwater invasive species. More are available and in progress.

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