Restore or create heathland/shrubland
Overall effectiveness category Awaiting assessment
Number of studies: 1
Background information and definitions
The loss of heathland or shrubland may occur due to a range of factors, including too many grazing animals inhibiting regeneration of shrubs, too few grazing animals or fire suppression leading to reversion to woodland, or invasion by non-native species. Shrubland restoration or creation may benefit butterflies and moths associated with the habitat.
Habitats within this action include dry heathland, shrubland and moorland. For studies on restoring wet heathland and raised bogs, see “Restore or create peatland”. For studies on restoring dry grassland, see “Restore or create grassland/savannas”.
This action includes studies where either multiple actions have been used to restore or create heathland or shrubland, or where the specific action used is not clear. For studies of specific actions for creating, restoring, or managing heathland and shrubland, see “Replant native vegetation”, “Employ areas of semi-natural habitat for rough grazing (includes salt marsh, lowland heath, bog, fen)”, “Manage heathland by cutting” and “Natural system modifications – Use prescribed fire to maintain or restore disturbance in grasslands or other open habitats”.
Supporting evidence from individual studies
A replicated, paired, site comparison study in 2003 on eight moorlands in northern England and Scotland, UK (Littlewood et al. 2006) found that the moth community on restored moorland was more similar to that on established heather moorland than on degraded moorland. Compared to degraded moorland (0%) and established heather moorland (100%), restored moorland sites had moth communities that were 54–95% similar to established sites 6–13 years after restoration commenced. Sites restored by grazing exclusion were 63–95% similar to established sites 6–13 years after restoration, while sites restored by herbicide application and re-seeding were 54–75% similar to established sites 8–11 years after restoration (statistical significance not assessed). Restoration of eight moors commenced from 1990–1997. On four moors, restoration was conducted by grazing exclusion. At the other four moors, herbicide application and reseeding was used, sometimes with burning of dead vegetation and scarification of the ground. On each moor, 18 sample locations were established over 1–4 km: six each in restored sites (recreated dominance of heather Calluna vulgaris), degraded sites (acid grassland dominated by purple moor-grass Molinia caerulea or matgrass Nardus stricta), and established heather moorland. On 44 nights from June–September 2003, moths were caught in 2–3 Skinner light traps/night in different habitats, and identified to species at dawn.Study and other actions tested