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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: 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 intervention(s) shown on the right. The icon shows which synopsis it is relevant to.

Reinstate the use of traditional burning practices Shrubland and Heathland Conservation

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)