Cut trees and remove leaf litter

How is the evidence assessed?
  • Effectiveness
  • Certainty
  • Harms

Study locations

Key messages

  • One before-and-after trial in the Netherlands found that cutting trees and removing the litter layer increased the cover of two heather species and of three grass species.

About key messages

Key messages provide a descriptive index to studies we have found that test this intervention.

Studies are not directly comparable or of equal value. When making decisions based on this evidence, you should consider factors such as study size, study design, reported metrics and relevance of the study to your situation, rather than simply counting the number of studies that support a particular interpretation.

Supporting evidence from individual studies

  1. A before-and-after trial in 1989–1994 in a formerly forested wet heathland in the Netherlands (Jansen et al. 1996) found that cutting trees and removing the leaf litter layer increased the cover of two heather and three grass species. Fifteen years after trees were cut and leaf litter removed, the cover of common heather Calluna vulgaris and cross-leaved heath Erica tetralix (heather: 3%; cross-leaved heath: 2%) was higher than before cutting and removal of leaf litter (heather: 0%; cross-leaved heath: 0%). This pattern was also seen for purple moor-grass Molinia caerulea (before: 0%; after: 18%), bulbous rush Juncus bulbosus (before: 0%; after: 9%), and sharp flower rush Juncus acutiflorus (before: 0%; after: 7%). All trees were cut and the leaf litter removed in winter 1989. Twelve permanent plots measuring either 1 m2 or 4 m2 were established at the site in 1989 and vegetation cover was recorded in July or August for every year in 1989–1994.

    Study and other actions tested
Please cite as:

Martin, P.A., Rocha, R., Smith, R.K. & Sutherland, W.J. (2020) Shrubland and Heathland Conservation. Pages 483-525 in: W.J. Sutherland, L.V. Dicks, S.O. Petrovan & R.K. Smith (eds) What Works in Conservation 2020. Open Book Publishers, Cambridge, UK.

Where has this evidence come from?

List of journals searched by synopsis

All the journals searched for all synopses

Shrubland and Heathland Conservation

This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:

Shrubland and Heathland Conservation
Shrubland and Heathland Conservation

Shrubland and Heathland Conservation - Published 2017

Shrubland and Heathland synopsis

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What Works in Conservation provides expert assessments of the effectiveness of actions, based on summarised evidence, in synopses. Subjects covered so far include amphibians, birds, mammals, forests, peatland and control of freshwater invasive species. More are in progress.

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