In Sølendet nature reserve in the upper boreal of central Norway, the effects of controlled trampling from 1977 to 1981 were observed in four rich fen localities. The vegetation recovery was monitored on permanent plots on 3–4 occasions during the period 1981–1995. During trampling the vegetation cover was reduced and bare peat increased, particularly in a wet fen expanse locality. Woody species and herbs disappeared or were considerably reduced in cover, while some graminoids (e.g. Carex spp. and Eriophorum angustifolium) and bryophytes (e.g. Campylium stellatum and Scorpidium cossonii), appeared to be quite tolerant. Equisetum palustre and Eriophorum angustifolium increased in cover on two tracks. Several bryophytes survived trampling, but Sphagnum warnstorfii was eradicated. Campylium stellatum and Tomentypnum nitens were able to increase after the decrease in S. warnstorfii. The recovery was dependent on which species were present at the outset and which species arrived early. Further development seemed to depend largely on the species' capacity for rapid increase in cover. Eventually, the more vulnerable dominants of the untrampled vegetation (e.g. Thalictrum alpinum, Trichophorum cespitosum and Sphagnum warnstorfii) increased in abundance. After 15 years the tracks still contained fewer species and had less vegetation cover than the surroundings.