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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Responses of ground flora and insect assemblages to tree felling and soil scraping as an initial step to heathland restoration at Norton Heath Common, Essex, England

Published source details

Gardiner T. & Vaughan A. (2008) Responses of ground flora and insect assemblages to tree felling and soil scraping as an initial step to heathland restoration at Norton Heath Common, Essex, England. Conservation Evidence, 5, 95-100


This study is summarised as evidence for the intervention(s) shown on the right. The icon shows which synopsis it is relevant to.

Restore heathland Bee Conservation

Selective tree felling and removal of humus and nutrient-rich soil by scraping in a 1 ha area at Norton Heath Common, southeast England increased the range of common bumblebee species recorded within the scraped area from one in the first year to four in the second year (Gardiner & Vaughan 2008).

Strip topsoil Shrubland and Heathland Conservation

A controlled, before-and-after trial in 2007–2008 in a former heathland now dominated by trees in Essex, UK (Gardiner & Vaughan 2008) found that stripping the top layers of soil increased the cover of gorse Ulex europaeus and sheep’s sorrel Rumex acetosella, as well as the number of plant species. The cover of gorse increased in plots where soil had been stripped (before: 0%; after: 2%) and this cover was higher than in plots that had not been stripped (before: 0%; after: 0%). The cover of sheep’s sorrel also increase in plots where soil had been stripped (before: 0%; after: 1%) and this was also higher than in plots where soil had not been stripped (before: 0%; after: 1%). After soil stripping, the number of plant species in stripped plots was higher than in unstripped plots (stripped plots: 1.5 species/quadrat; unstripped plots: 0.6 species/quadrat). Leaf litter and topsoil was stripped in ten 50 cm x 50 cm quadrats, while in another ten quadrats topsoil was left unstripped. Vegetation cover in the quadrats was assessed four times between May 2007 and July 2008.

(Summarised by Phil Martin)