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Providing evidence to improve practice

Action: Use herbicide and prescribed burning to control grass Shrubland and Heathland Conservation

Key messages

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Supporting evidence from individual studies


A randomized, replicated, controlled, paired, before-and-after study in 1996-1999 in wet heathland in Northumberland, UK (Ross et al. 2003) found that burning and applying herbicide to reduce the cover of purple-moor grass Molinia caerulea reduced cover of common heather Calluna vulgaris but did not reduce cover of purple-moor grass. Cover of common heather was lower after than before burning and applying herbicide (after: 26-68%, before: 70-99%) and was lower than in plots that were not burned or sprayed with herbicide (68-93%). Cover of purple-moor grass in plots that had been burned and sprayed with herbicide was not significantly different to that in plots that had not been burned or sprayed with herbicide (no data presented). In April 1996 six 10 x 10 m plots were burned and sprayed with herbicide and six plots were not burned or sprayed with herbicide. In 1995 five 1 m2 quadrats were established in each plot and vegetation was surveyed in July 1995 and 1997-1999. The area was used for livestock and density of sheep varied from 0.66 to 1.5 ewes/ha.

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.