Many of the agri-environment schemes (AES) implemented in the Western Peat District of the Netherlands have as their objective the conservation of the diversity of ditch bank plants. We investigated the effects of AES on ditch bank species in this area, using a dataset collected by 377 farmers who managed and monitored ditch banks during a 10-year period. We found that species richness has increased minimally over the last 10 years in ditch banks. Yet, we found no differences in increases in time between ditch banks with and without AES. In both ditch bank types plant species composition changed to species with higher nitrogen tolerance. Furthermore, species that disperse over long distances by water increased, whereas species with no capacity to disperse over long distances declined in both ditch bank types. This indicates that changes in vegetation composition in ditch banks are affected by other factors than AES.
- Plant species richness Biodiversity conservation Farmland Agrobiodiversity Grassland Riparian management Dispersal agricultural landscapes farmland biodiversity peat areas grassland restoration management diversity europe conservation netherlands Environmental Sciences & Ecology