Environmental and economic costs and benefits of a new harvesting system which provides a method of large scale wetland management will be compared with traditional, labour intensive agricultural practices and will be conducted in the fenland of the Norfolk Broads. The environmental benefits assessment will consist of a series of controlled and replicated experimental treatments which will evaluate each alternative harvesting method at 2 heights of cut, as well as including a winter cut treatment for fen dominated by Phragmites australis. Physical impacts of the alternative management methods (e.g. extent and nature of surface impacts, cleanness of cut on sensitive species, effects of harvesting on vegetation structure and measurement of the quantity of litter and cut material remaining after harvesting) will be examined, together with relative responses of vegetation to each management method (e.g. response of flora to observed surface changes, regrowth response of key sensitive species, response of vegetation to different cut heights and effects of mechanical harvesting on balance of dominant plant species). This experimental data will then be used to map areas of fen vegetation suitable for harvesting, using the existing SPANS GIS and taking into account practical and environmental constraints. Vegetation that could be restored to good quality commercial reed or sedge via mechanised harvesting will also be identified. Samples from mixed/litter fen (dominated by Juncus subnodulosus/Carex spp.) will be harvested and analysed to calculate the dry weight and nutrient content of litter associated with regular mechanised harvesting compared with hand operated clearance methods, grazing practices or scenarios of neglect. Moreover, data from experimental trials will be used to evaluate general nature conservation benefits associated with use of mechanised harvesting in comparison with alternative management options, using information on effects of plants, birds, mammals and invertebrates. Furthermore, landscape benefits of using mechanised harvesting vs. alternative management options will be explored using the GIS-generated maps. The economic benefits assessment will comprise implementation of a cost-effectiveness analysis for the different types of management option, with identification of the least cost option, as well as break-even and cost benefit analyses. The economic benefits assessment will also study the possible application of the mechanised harvesting system to a selected range of other wetland management scenarios in Europe.