Conservation Evidence strives to be as useful to conservationists as possible. Please take our survey to help the team improve our resource.

Providing evidence to improve practice

Action: Remove leaf litter Shrubland and Heathland Conservation

Key messages

Read our guidance on Key messages before continuing

  • One randomized, controlled study in the UK found that removing leaf litter did not alter the presence of heather.

Supporting evidence from individual studies


A randomized, controlled study between 1991 and 2004 in a former pine plantation in Kent, United Kingdom (1) found that 12 years after removing leaf litter the frequency of heather Calluna vulgaris was the same as in areas where leaf litter was not removed. After 12 years there was no significant difference in the frequency of heather between areas where leaf litter was removed (heather present in 99% of plots) and areas where leaf litter was not removed (heather present in 69% of plots). Four blocks consisting of two 25 m2 plots were located in the plantation. In one plot leaf litter was removed and in the other leaf litter was not removed. In each plot ten 0.25 m2 quadrats were used to record the frequency of heather plants.

Referenced papers

Please cite as:

Martin P.A., Rocha R., Smith R.K. & Sutherland W.J. (2019) Shrubland and Heathland Conservation. Pages 493-538 in: W.J. Sutherland, L.V. Dicks, N. Ockendon, S.O. Petrovan & R.K. Smith (eds) What Works in Conservation 2019. Open Book Publishers, Cambridge, UK.