Studies on Fire in Scottish Heathland Communities II. Post-Fire Vegetation Development

  • Published source details Hobbs R.J. & Gimingham C.H. (1984) Studies on Fire in Scottish Heathland Communities II. Post-Fire Vegetation Development. Journal of Ecology, 72, 585-610


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Reinstate the use of traditional burning practices

Action Link
Shrubland and Heathland Conservation
  1. Reinstate the use of traditional burning practices

    A before-and-after study in 1978–1983 in two heathland sites in the UK (Hobbs & Gimingham 1984) found that prescribed burning initially decreased cover of most plant species, but that their cover subsequently increased. Cover of common heather Calluna vulgaris was lower immediately after burning than before burning (after: 5–42%, before: 52–100%) but this increased after three years to 9–63% cover. Similarly cover of the shrubs bell heather Erica cinerea (immediately after: 2–24%, before: 55–92%, after three years: 21–85%) and bearberry Arctosaphylos uva-ursi (immediately after: 2–43%, before: 46–97%, after three years: 5–65%) initially decreased following fire and then increased after three years. The number of plant species was lower immediately after prescribed burning than before burning (after: 4–11 species, before: 10–31 species) but this increased after three years to 19–30 species. No statistical analyses were carried out in this study. Fourteen areas of the two heathland sites were burned in 1978 or 1979. Four 1 m2 quadrats were placed in each burned area and cover of plant species recorded three times a year in 1978–1980, including before burning took place.

    (Summarised by: Ricardo Rocha)

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