Effects of reducing sheep grazing in the Scottish Highlands

  • Published source details Hope D., Picozzi N., Catt D.C. & Moss R. (1996) Effects of reducing sheep grazing in the Scottish Highlands. Journal of Range Management, 49, 301-310.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Reduce number of livestock

Action Link
Shrubland and Heathland Conservation
  1. Reduce number of livestock

    A replicated, controlled, paired study in 1968–1990 in 22 heathlands sites in the UK (Hope et al. 1996) found that reducing the number of livestock increased cover of heather Calluna vulgaris, had no effect on cover of rush and herbaceous species, as well as the number of plant species, and reduced grass cover. Sites where grazing had been stopped had higher cover of heather than sites that were grazed, but cover of the dwarf shrubs cross-leaved heath Erica tetralix, bell heather Erica cinerea, or bilberry Vaccinium myrillus did not differ significantly between ungrazed and grazed sites (data not presented). Cover of grass species was lower in sites where grazing had stopped than in sites that were grazed (data not presented). Rush and herbaceous cover did not differ significantly between ungrazed and grazed areas, and the same was true for the number of plant species in each site (data not presented). Sites were paired based on soil type and details of previous land-use. Sheep were removed from ungrazed sites in 1964–1987. In the summers of 1989 and 1990 four to eighteen 1 m2 quadrats were placed in each site and the cover of each plant species assessed.

    (Summarised by: Phil Martin)

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