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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Prescribed burning and browsing to control tree encroachment in southern European heathlands

Published source details

Ascoli D., Lonati M., Marzano R., Bovio G., Cavallero A. & Lombardi G. (2013) Prescribed burning and browsing to control tree encroachment in southern European heathlands. Forest Ecology and Management, 289, 69-77


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

Use grazing to control trees Shrubland and Heathland Conservation

A randomized, controlled, before-and-after study in 2005-2009 in a heathland invaded by aspen Populus tremuloides and silver birch Betula pendula in Italy (Ascoli et al. 2013) found that grazing to reduce tree cover reduced the cover of common heather Calluna vulgaris and the basal area of trees but did not alter the cover of purple moor grass Molinia arundinacea. After five years, the cover of common heather in grazed areas was similar (77%) to than that in areas that were not burned (77%). Purple moor grass cover was similar between grazed (84%) and ungrazed areas (88%). The basal area of trees was lower in grazed (3.2 m2/ha) than in ungrazed areas (4.6 m2/ha). No statistical analyses were carried out in this study. Starting in spring 2006 nine 650 m2 plots were grazed by goats for five years, and another six plots were not grazed. Five 2 x 2 m quadrats were placed in each plot and diameter of trees within them measured. Cover of common heather and purple moor grass was estimated using a 10 m transect in each plot along which the presence of both species was noted every 20 cm.

 

(Summarised by Phil Martin)

Increase number of livestock and use prescribed burning to control trees Shrubland and Heathland Conservation

A randomized, controlled, before-and-after study in 2005–2009 in a heathland invaded by aspen Populus tremuloides and silver birch Betula pendula in Italy (Ascoli et al. 2013) found that using prescribed burning and grazing to reduce tree cover reduced the cover of common heather Calluna vulgaris and basal area of trees but did not alter the cover of purple moor grass Molinia arundinacea. After five years, the cover of common heather in areas that were burned and grazed was lower (83%) than that in areas that were not burned (36%).  Cover of purple moor grass was similar between burned and grazed areas (89%) and areas that were not burned or grazed (88%). Additionally, the basal area of trees was lower in burned and grazed areas (0.5 m2/ha) than in areas that had not been burned or grazed (4.6 m2/ha). In winter 2005 twelve 650 m2 plots were burned and subsequently grazed by goats for five years, and another six plots were not burned or grazed. No statistical analyses were carried out in this study. Five 2 x 2 m quadrats were placed in each plot and diameter of trees within them measured. Cover of common heather and purple moor grass was estimated using a 10 m transect in each plot along which the presence of both species was noted every 20 cm.

 

 

(Summarised by Phil Martin)

Use prescribed burning to control trees Shrubland and Heathland Conservation

A randomized, controlled, before-and-after st udy in 2005–2009 in a heathland invaded by aspen Populus tremuloides and silver birch Betula pendula in Italy (Ascoli et al. 2013) found that prescribed burning to reduce tree cover reduced the cover of common heather Calluna vulgaris, increased the cover of purple moor grass Molinia arundinacea and had mixed effects on the basal area of trees.  After five years, cover of common heather declined in areas that were burned (before: 78%, after: 0%) but showed little change in areas that were not burned (before: 72%, after: 72%). Common heather cover in areas that had been burned once increased to 37% but in areas that were burned yearly cover remained at 0%. Purple moor grass cover increased in areas that were burned (before: 76%, after: 94%), and cover also increased in unburned areas (before: 79%, after 91%). Basal area of trees declined one year after burning (before: 3 m2/ha, after: 0.5 m2/ha) and remained at this level for areas that were burned yearly, but increased to 2 m2/ha after five years in areas that were only burned once. In winter 2005 nine 650 m2 plots were burned, another six plots were burned every year in 2005–2009, and six plots were not burned. No statistical analyses were carried out in this study. Five 2 x 2 m quadrats were placed in each plot and the diameter of trees within them measured. Cover of common heather and purple moor grass was estimated using a 10 m transect in each plot along which the presence of both species was recorded every 20 cm.

(Summarised by Phil Martin)