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Heathland Project Report

Report Introduction  Contents Summary

Doeheath.jpg (44888 bytes)Grazing Animals

left: Roe doe on the Heathland Restoration site.

Tree seedlings, grasses and bracken will all be controlled to some extent by the effect of grazing animals. Domestic animals are not grazed on the site, but Roe Deer and rabbits are present. Roe Deer have been seen grazing on the project site, but neither the extent of their grazing, nor their regional preferences are known. They generally occur singly, or in small family groups rather than in herds, so will have less effect than a herd animal such as Red Deer. The Roe Deer frequently lie up in the control section in the day since the vegetation in this section has now grown up enough to provide an effective shield. Their feeding preferences include the buds and leaves of deciduous trees and shrubs, brambles, ivy , herbs, conifers, fern, heather and grasses. What effect they are having on the the structure and distribution of the plant community is unknown.

In other heathland areas (Lincolnshire and East Anglia), rabbits have been shown to have a devastating effect on the vegetation, which only recovers when they are excluded by some form of fencing. Some grazing is beneficial in that it controls the spread of grasses and tree seedlings, but over-grazing can be very detrimental. Again it is not known in what numbers the rabbits occur on the site, nor the effects they may be having. However, their numbers are clearly not excessive and it is unlikely that they are having a detrimental effect on the project site.Calluna, fine grasses such as Agrostis spp., Bell Heather and seedling Gorse are at the top of their feeding preferences on heathland sites (Chadwick).

It must be noted that most of the management techniques used on the project site to prevent the succession to woodland are non-selective, reducing all vegetation down to the same level. Grazing by animals, whether domestic or wild, is selective as illustrated above and will therefore affect the vegetation of a site significantly differently to brushcutting.

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Heathland Restoration Project Report







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Other Lowland Heaths in East Devon