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This virtual collection contains six papers from the Conservation Evidence journal on the management of forests and woodlands for conservation.
The use of bud caps (leading shoot tree guards) to relieve browsing pressure in remote areas of Caledonian pinewood at Mar Lodge Estate National Nature Reserve, UK
Painting A.I., Agnew J. & Rao S. (2018), 15, 5-5
Bud caps can be used to reduce browsing pressure on isolated Scots pine Pinus sylvestris seedlings in outlying areas of Caledonian pinewood.
Effect of varying coppice height on tree survival and ground flora in Brasenose Wood, Oxfordshire, UK
Wright I.R. & Bartel T.W. (2017), 14, 1-4
Coppicing is a commonly used management intervention to increase structural diversity in woodlands, but coppiced trees are vulnerable to browsing by deer. We investigated the effect of coppicing hazel stools at different heights on the survival of trees, and also the species richness of the ground flora. Plots were cut at experimental heights of 0.7 m and 0.8 m, with plots cut at 1.2 m and ground level as controls. All the stools cut at 1.2 m were alive five years after cutting. In the plots cut at 0.7 and 0.8 m, some shoots were eaten by deer but less than 10% of stools died. Less than 5% of stools in the plot cut at ground level survived. After 7–8 years, coppicing at 0.7 m and 0.8 m supported a higher species richness of angiosperm ground flora than either of the control heights. We conclude that high-level coppicing offers a cost-effective opportunity to achieve a rotation frequency that increases tree survival and supports a diverse coppice-woodland angiosperm flora.
Effect of reducing red deer Cervus elaphus density on browsing impact and growth of Scots pine Pinus sylvestris seedlings in semi-natural woodland in the Cairngorms, UK
Rao S.J. (2017), 14, 22-26
Fencing is the most commonly used management intervention to prevent damage to young woodland regeneration from deer. However, damage can also be prevented through reducing red deer numbers and alleviating browsing pressure. We investigated the effect of reducing red deer Cervus elaphus density on browsing impact and growth of Scots pine Pinus sylvestris seedlings at Mar Lodge Estate, Cairngorms, UK. Red deer numbers were reduced significantly between 1995 and 2016, and there was a concomitant significant reduction in deer pellet densities and browsing incidents. Positive growth of seedlings was small in the years soon after the deer reduction programme began, and was still being suppressed by browsing in 2007. However subsequently, seedling growth has increased as red deer numbers have been maintained below 3.5/km2. Red deer reduction appears to have been effective in reducing browsing impacts on Scots pine seedlings, allowing successful growth and establishment of regeneration.
Restoration of a degraded dry forest using nurse trees at Dambulla, Sri Lanka
Medawatte W.W.M.B.A., Amarasinghe J., Iqbal M.C.M. & Ranwala S.M.W. (2014), 11, 16-19
We determined the effect of over-storey nurse tree cultivation on species composition in a naturally regenerated dry forest in a dry zone arboretum in Sri Lanka. The forest had previously been abandoned shifting cultivated land. One area was restored using nurse trees, one area was restored without nurse trees, and one area was left unmanaged as a control. Species dominance, richness and diversity of regenerated trees were assessed within random plots in the three treatment types. Regenerated tree species richness and diversity were greater in the restored land with nurse trees than in the restored land without nurse trees or in the control area. Dry forest tree species were dominant in the plots with nurse trees, while light-demanding and competitive pioneer scrubland species were dominant in the plots without nurse trees and the control area. We suggest that monospecific tree plantations that have been established for reforestation or agroforestry purposes could be used as nurse trees for dry forest restoration.
The creation of structural diversity and deadwood habitat by ring-barking in a Scots pine Pinus sylvestris plantation in the Cairngorms, UK
Agnew J.M. & Rao S. (2014), 11, 43-47
Fifteen-hundred Scots pine trees were ring-barked (as individuals, groups of five or 15) on Mar Lodge Estate, Scotland in order to create structural diversity and deadwood habitat in two plantations. A sample of 220 was monitored annually and compared with a control sample of 10 non ring-barked trees, to quantify structural changes as well as use by saproxylic invertebrates and woodpeckers. Eight years after ring-barking 26.1% (±6.13% S.E.) of the trees had snapped off and 2.4% (±1.37%) had fallen over completely; 48.0% (±12.5%) had lost 60-90% of their branches and 34.9% (±24.2%) had lost more than 50% of their bark. Additionally 98.5% (±0.92%) of the trees showed signs of wood boring invertebrates and 74.5% (±11.6%) were used by woodpeckers. Six species of beetle, four of which were saproxylic, and a single species of saproxylic fly were identified from fallen deadwood from the ring-barked trees. The control trees remained largely structurally unchanged and none were colonised by saproxylic invertebrates or woodpeckers. There were significant differences in structural change and use by woodpeckers between the two plantations but none in the occurrence of saproxylic invertebrates. Group size had no significant effect on colonisation, except for woodpeckers which used small groups of trees significantly more than larger groups. Ring-barking can provide an effective management tool to create structural diversity and deadwood habitat within a short period of time. However it is necessary to regularly repeat ring-barking in groups of different size in order to maximise structural variation and ensure niche diversity of such a dynamic substrate.
Deadwood fencing used to protect broadleaved trees from deer browsing in the Cairngorms, Scotland
Bradfer-Lawrence T. & Rao S. (2012), 9, 72-78
At a site on Mar Lodge Estate, Scotland, a number of broadleaved trees were planted during the early 1990s. After fifteen years these trees were still barely higher than the tree tubes protecting them due to heavy browsing by deer. In 2004 a series of small exclosures were constructed around some of the trees using timber felled from a nearby conifer plantation. Fences were constructed with logs, which proved to be longer-lasting and sturdier than the woody debris used for protection elsewhere. The trees inside the exclosures are significantly higher than those which remain unfenced, and the ground vegetation has responded well. Deadwood fences have a number of benefits over traditional deer fencing: posing no threat to woodland grouse, having a lower visual impact in the landscape, and providing additional habitats for wildlife.