Increase number of livestock and use prescribed burning to control trees

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

Study locations

Key messages

  • One randomized, controlled, before-and-after study in Italy found that using prescribed burning and grazing to reduce tree cover reduced the cover of common heather and the basal area of trees. However, it did not alter the cover of purple moor grass.

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 randomized, controlled, before-and-after study in 2005–2009 in a heathland invaded by aspen Populus tremuloides and silver birch Betula pendula in Italy (Ascoli et al. 2013) found that using prescribed burning and grazing to reduce tree cover reduced the cover of common heather Calluna vulgaris and basal area of trees but did not alter the cover of purple moor grass Molinia arundinacea. After five years, the cover of common heather in areas that were burned and grazed was lower (83%) than that in areas that were not burned (36%).  Cover of purple moor grass was similar between burned and grazed areas (89%) and areas that were not burned or grazed (88%). Additionally, the basal area of trees was lower in burned and grazed areas (0.5 m2/ha) than in areas that had not been burned or grazed (4.6 m2/ha). In winter 2005 twelve 650 m2 plots were burned and subsequently grazed by goats for five years, and another six plots were not burned or grazed. No statistical analyses were carried out in this study. Five 2 x 2 m quadrats were placed in each plot and diameter of trees within them measured. Cover of common heather and purple moor grass was estimated using a 10 m transect in each plot along which the presence of both species was noted every 20 cm.

    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

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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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