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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Rehabilitation of degraded Calluna vulgaris (L.) Hull-dominated wet heath by controlled sheep grazing

Published source details

Hulme P.D., Merrell B.G., Torvell L., Fisher J.M., Small J.L. & Pakeman R.J. (2002) Rehabilitation of degraded Calluna vulgaris (L.) Hull-dominated wet heath by controlled sheep grazing. Biological Conservation, 107, 351-363


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

Shorten the period during which livestock can graze Shrubland and Heathland Conservation

A replicated, randomized, controlled study in 1989–1995 in wet heathland in Northumberland, UK (Hulme et al. 2002) found that after six years only allowing grazing in winter or summer there was little difference in heather Calluna vulgaris height compared to areas exposed to year-round grazing. Heather height did not significantly differ in plots where grazing was only allowed in winter (38 cm), plots where grazing was only allowed in summer (38 cm), and plots where grazing was allowed year round (38 cm). The same was true for grass height (winter only: 37 cm; summer only: 33 cm; year-round: 31 cm). Four blocks, each composed of three 0.3 plots were fenced in 1989. Within each block one plot was grazed only in winter, one only in summer, and one year round. All plots had a density of 0.7 sheep/ha. Vegetation height was measured twice a year between 1989 and 1995 at 40 random locations using a sward stick.

(Summarised by Phil Martin)

Reduce number of livestock Shrubland and Heathland Conservation

A replicated, randomized, controlled trial between 1989 and 1995 in wet heathland in Northumberland, UK (Hulme et al. 2002) found that reducing the number of sheep increased vegetation height after six years. Vegetation was taller in plots where grazing was light (37 cm) or moderate (37 cm) when compared to heavily grazed areas (12 cm). Heather Calluna vulgaris shoots were also longer in areas where grazing was reduced (63 cm) than in areas that were heavily grazed (44 cm). Four blocks, each composed of two 0.3 plots, were fenced in 1989. Within each block one plot had a density of 0.7 sheep/ha, and one plot had 1.4 sheep/ha. Nearby grazed heath with 2.1 sheep/ha was used for comparisons. Vegetation height was measured twice a year between 1989 and 1995 at 40 random locations in each plot using a sward stick.

(Summarised by Phil Martin)