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Open Access Open Badges Systematic Review Protocol

How effective are reedbeds, ponds, restored and constructed wetlands at retaining nitrogen, phosphorus and suspended sediment from agricultural pollution in England?

Elizabeth J Palmer-Felgate1*, Mike C Acreman1, Jos TA Verhoeven2, Miklas Scholz3, Edward Maltby4, Charlie J Stratford1, Jonathan Newman1, James Miller1 and Deborah Coughlin5

Author Affiliations

1 Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, CEH Wallingford, Maclean Building, Crowmarsh Gifford, Wallingford, Oxfordshire, OX10 8BB, UK

2 Ecology and Biodiversity, Universiteit Utrecht, H.R. Kruytgebouw, N310 Padualaan 8, 3584 CH, Utrecht, The Netherlands

3 Civil Engineering Research Centre, School of Computing, Science & Engineering, The University of Salford, Salford, Greater Manchester, M5 4WT, UK

4 Emeritus Professor, Wetland Science, Water & Ecosystem Management, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, L69 3BX, UK

5 Analysis & Evidence Team, Water & Flood Risk Management, Defra, Area 2B, Ergon House, c/o Nobel House, 17 Smith Square, London, SW1P 3JR, UK

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Environmental Evidence 2013, 2:1  doi:10.1186/2047-2382-2-1

Published: 29 January 2013


A high priority topic within the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) water quality programme is the mitigation of diffuse rural pollution from agriculture. Wetlands are often cited as being effective at reducing nutrient and sediment loadings to receiving waters. However, the research in this area is inconsistent, and whilst most studies have shown that both natural and constructed wetlands retain nutrients and sediments, others have shown that they have little effect, or even increase nutrient and sediment loads to receiving water bodies. DEFRA has commissioned a systematic review on the use of wetlands to mitigate N, P and SS inputs from agriculture to receiving freshwater in England. The review will encompass a comprehensive literature search on all available material on the subject, both published and unpublished within the British Isles. Specific inclusion criteria will be adhered to and a formal assessment of the quality and reliability of the studies will be undertaken. The data will then be extracted and a data synthesis undertaken. The review will inform an evidence-based policy that can be implemented by stakeholders.

Wetlands; Reedbeds; Ponds; Constructed; Restored; Nutrients; Nitrogen; Phosphorus; Suspended Sediment; Agriculture