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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Describing vegetation succession after bracken control: Evaluation of the REBRA model

Published source details

Paterson S., Pakeman R. & Marrs R. (2000) Describing vegetation succession after bracken control: Evaluation of the REBRA model. Journal of Environmental management, 59, 31-45


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

Cut and apply herbicide to control bracken Shrubland and Heathland Conservation

A randomized, replicated, controlled, paired study in 1993-1995 at a heathland site in Suffolk, UK (Paterson et al. 2000) found that cutting and using herbicide reduced bracken Pteridium aquilinum cover, but had no significant effect on the cover of seven other plant species. In four of four cases bracken cover in areas that were cut and sprayed with herbicide was lower (7-63%) than in areas that were not cut or sprayed (4-12%). The cover of the following plants did not differ significantly in sprayed and cut areas and areas that were not sprayed or cut: common heather Calluna vulgaris (cut and sprayed: 0-2%, unsprayed and uncut: 0%), sedge species Carex spp. (cut and sprayed: 0%, unsprayed and uncut: 1-7%), wavy-hair grass Deschampsia flexuosa (cut and sprayed: 0-14%, unsprayed and uncut: 0-4%), sheep’s fescue Festuca ovina (cut and sprayed: 0% , unsprayed and uncut: 0-5%), Yorkshire fog Holcus lanatus (cut and sprayed: 0%, unsprayed and uncut: 0%), sheep’s sorrel Rumex acetosella (cut and sprayed: 1-13%, unsprayed and uncut: 3-5%), and woodland ragwort Senecio sylvaticus (cut and sprayed: 0%, unsprayed: 0%). Three 8 x 8 m plots were cut and then sprayed with the herbicide asulam in 1993, three plots were spraye with asulam in 1993 and cut in 1994, and three plots were not cut or sprayed. In July 1994 and 1995 plant cover was assessed in two 1 m2 quadrats placed in each plot.

(Summarised by Phil Martin)

Cut to control bracken Shrubland and Heathland Conservation

A randomized, replicated, controlled, paired study in 1993-1995 at a heathland site in Suffolk, UK (Paterson et al. 2000) found that cutting to control bracken Pteridium aquilinum had mixed effects on bracken cover and wavy-hair grass Deschampsia flexuosa, but no significant effect on the cover of six other plant species. In three of four cases bracken cover in areas that were cut (16-47%) was lower than in areas that were not cut (89-93%), in one case there was no difference in bracken cover (cut:85%, uncut 89-93%). In one of four cases cover of wavy-hair grass was higher in areas that were cut (18%) than in areas that were not cut (0%), but in three of four cases there was no significant difference in wavy-hair grass cover (cut: 0-10%, uncut 0-4%). The cover of the following plants did not differ significantly in cut and uncut areas: common heather Calluna vulgaris (cut: 0%, uncut: 0%), sedge species Carex spp. (cut: 0%, uncut: 1-7%), sheep’s fescue Festuca ovina (cut:0-15% , uncut: 0-5%), Yorkshire fog Holcus lanatus (cut: 0%, uncut: 0%), sheep’s sorrel Rumex acetosella (cut: 0-7%, uncut:3-5%), and woodland ragwort Senecio sylvaticus (cut: 0%, uncut: 0%). In 1993-1995 three 8 x 8m plots were cut one a year, three plots were cut twice a year, and three plots were not cut. In July 1994 and 1995 plant cover was assessed in two 1 m2 quadrats placed in each plot.

(Summarised by Phil Martin)

Use herbicide to control bracken Shrubland and Heathland Conservation

A randomized, replicated, controlled, paired study in 1993-1995 at a heathland site in Suffolk, UK (Paterson et al. 2000) found that using herbicide to control bracken Pteridium aquilinum reduced bracken cover, but had no significant effect on the cover of seven other plant species. In two of two cases bracken cover in areas where herbicide was sprayed (16-47%) was lower than in areas that were not sprayed (4-12%). The cover of the following plants did not differ significantly in sprayed and unsprayed areas: common heather Calluna vulgaris (sprayed: 0%, unsprayed: 0%), sedge species Carex spp. (sprayed: 0-1%, unsprayed: 1-7%), wavy-hair grass Deschampsia flexuosa (sprayed: 0-12%, unsprayed: 0-4%), sheep’s fescue Festuca ovina (sprayed:0% , unsprayed: 0-5%), Yorkshire fog Holcus lanatus (sprayed: 0%, unsprayed: 0%), sheep’s sorrel Rumex acetosella (sprayed: 1%, unsprayed:3-5%), and woodland ragwort Senecio sylvaticus (sprayed: 0%, unsprayed: 0%). In 1993 three 8 x 8m plots were sprayed with the herbicide asulam, and three plots were not cut. In July 1994 and 1995 plant cover was assessed in two 1 m2 quadrats placed in each plot.

(Summarised by Phil Martin)