• Acidification;
  • Fen meadow;
  • Hydrological system;
  • Restoration management;
  • Seed bank;
  • Sod cutting
  • van der Meijden et al. (1990) for vascular plants;
  • Schaminee et al. (1996) for plant communities

Abstract. Fen meadows (Cirsio dissecti-Molinietum) are seriously threatened by desiccation, acidification and eutro-phication. In The Netherlands several projects were launched to restore damaged fen meadows. This review describes how successes and failures of these restoration projects depend on hydrological systems. Six hydrological systems have been distinguished, which all provide the site conditions required by this community. Nowadays, the best developed fen meadows are found in the higher Pleistocene landscape of The Netherlands, where they depend on base-rich groundwater discharging from local or large groundwater systems. Fen meadows of the lower Holocene landscape usually occur in man-made surface water systems. Almost all stands have been severely deteriorated. Restoration of fen meadows in the Pleistocene landscape is promising when the hydrology is only slightly disturbed or when hydrological measures are taken in combination with sod cutting. Restoration prospects of fen meadows in the Holocene landscape are low. Until now a complete regeneration of Cirsio-Molinietum meadows has not been realized. Restoration measures failed to restore high pH values in the top soil. It is hypothesized that viable seeds of many target species lack in the soil seed bank. In addition, the dispersal capacities of these species seem to be limited.