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Providing evidence to improve practice

Action: Cut/mow, rotovate and sow seeds to control grass Shrubland and Heathland Conservation

Key messages

Read our guidance on Key messages before continuing

  • One controlled study in the UK found that mowing followed by rotovating, and spreading clippings of heathland plants increased the number of heathland species. The same study found an increase in abundance of a minority of heathland and non-heathland species.

Supporting evidence from individual studies

1 

A controlled trial in 1983–1989 in two former heathlands converted to grasslands in Dorset, UK (Smith et al. 1991) found that mowing followed by rotovating and the spreading of clippings of heathland plants, increased the number of heathland plant species in two of two cases, and increased the presence of heathland plant species in three of 16 comparisons, but increased the presence of non-heathland plant species for two of 22 comparisons. After six years and in two of two cases, areas that had been mown, rotovated and spread with heathland clippings had a higher number of heathland plant species (4–7 species) than areas that had not been mown, rotovated, and spread with clippings (1–5 species). Presence of heathland plant species was higher in plots that were mown, rotovated and spread with heathland clippings (1–16%) than in plots that were not mown, rotovated, and spread with clippings in three of 16 comparisons (0%). Presence of non-heathland plant species was also higher in plots that were mown, rotovated and spread with heathland clippings (12%) than in plots that were not mown, rotovated, and spread with clippings in one of 22 comparisons (4%). In 1983 five 25 m2 plots were mown and rotovated and subsequently spread with clippings harvested from a nearby mature heathland and five plots were left unmown and unrotovated, and were not spread with clippings. In 1989 four 1 m2 quadrats divided into twenty-five 20 cm x 20 cm squares were placed in each plot and the presence of plant species in each square recorded.

Referenced papers

Please cite as:

Martin P.A., Rocha R., Smith R.K. & Sutherland W.J. (2018) Shrubland and Heathland Conservation. Pages 447-494 in: W.J. Sutherland, L.V. Dicks, N. Ockendon, S.O. Petrovan & R.K. Smith (eds) What Works in Conservation 2018. Open Book Publishers, Cambridge, UK.