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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Studies on the conservation of lowland Calluna heaths. I. Control of birch and bracken and its effect on heath vegetation

Published source details

Marrs R.H. (1987) Studies on the conservation of lowland Calluna heaths. I. Control of birch and bracken and its effect on heath vegetation. Journal of Applied Ecology, 24, 163-175


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

Cut trees and apply herbicide Shrubland and Heathland Conservation

A replicated, controlled, before-and-after, paired study in 1980–1985 in a heathland in the UK (Marrs 1987) found that cutting silver birch  trees Betula pendula and applying herbicide reduced their abundance when compared to cutting alone, and increased cover of wavy-hair grass Deschampsia flexuosa, but did not alter cover of common heather Calluna vulgaris. In four of four years, areas where silver birch had been cut and herbicide applied had lower number of silver birch (0–3 trees/200 m2) than areas where cutting alone was used (7–10 trees/200 m2). Cutting silver birch trees and applying herbicide did not alter cover of common heather relative to cutting alone (no data presented). After five years cover of wavy-hair grass was higher in plots where silver birch was cut and herbicide used (26–37%) than in plots where cutting along was carried out (8%). In January 1980 sixteen 10 x 20 m plots were established. All silver birch trees in the plots were cut at a height of 10 cm and removed from the site. Following this, in four plots all stumps were painted with the herbicide 2,4,5-T, in four plots the herbicide fosamine was sprayed, in four plots both fosamine and 2,4,5-T were used, and in four plots no herbicide was applied. In July 1980, 1981, 1982, and 1985 the number of silver birch trees in plots were counted. Vegetation cover was estimated in plots by eye.

(Summarised by Phil Martin)