19. Gorse Control
Gorse (Ulex europaeus) was initially dominant in section 7 with a mean % cover of 40% (Table). Survey results indicate that by 1998, grasses had become dominant while the mean % cover of Gorse in section 7 had declined to 4% (Table).
While these results indicate greatly decreased gorse cover in section 7, this is somewhat misleading as Gorse is actually still distributed over fairly large areas in this section. The Gorse, while widespread, does not uniformly cover the area and is most abundant in the lower, eastern end of the section. (This is an illustration of a phenomenon noticed many times while sampling. Namely that the vegetation of the upper, western end of the project site was often markedly different to the lower, eastern end. This is most likely to be due to the influence of the woodland on the western border of the project site.)
The random samples (being truly random) have obviously fallen several times in areas which were not covered by Gorse. This has resulted in a lowering of the mean % cover value for Gorse overall. This is a consequence of the patchy distribution of the Gorse and is an example of a case where more samples would undoubtedly have led to a truer picture of the area. A visual examination of section 7quickly indicates that the initial spot spraying with garlon to control the Gorse has been largely unsuccessful, despite the contrary indications of the survey results.
20. Control of Competing Species
Roundup was used in both sections 8 and 9 initially, to remove species which might compete with the Heather. While Heather is now extremely well-established in section 9, there is a correspondingly low % cover of Heather in section 8 (Heather Distribution). The use of Roundup does not therefore appear to have had any significant promotory effect on heather establishment.
The use of Roundup resulted in a significantly lowered species diversity in section 8 initially (Chart). This effect was not noted in section 9. This may be accounted for by the fact that section 9 is likely to be much more diverse than section 8 to begin with, because it covers a much larger, more environmentally diverse area.
23. The fauna on the heathland site has not yet been either qualitatively, or quantitatively surveyed. However, a number of animals have been seen while carrying out the annual vegetation surveys
Tiger Beetles (Cicindela campestris) which are very characteristic heathland inhabitants, have occurred on the project site since 1996. Orthopterans (grasshoppers / crickets) are abundant in the grasses in the summer. Numerous spiders and several species of butterflies and dragonflies are commonly seen. Detailed qualitative and quantitative surveys of the fauna of the project site are planned for the future.
The development of heath vegetation on the project site is being successfully promoted. Vegetation on the site was initially non-uniform as a result of varying environmental conditions across the site. The 1996 survey acted as a base-line survey to document these initial environmental differences. By 1998, clearly observable differences between sections had developed which were likely to be attributable to differing management practices. However, the heathland site is in the very early stages of restoration and it is likely to be some time before the real long-term effects of the management become apparent. Expanded Discussion.
Several people have provided information or help during the course of documenting this project.
Information from a number of different sources has been used in the production of this report.
Other Lowland Heaths in East Devon