Effectiveness of chemical and mechanical bracken Pteridium aquilinum control treatments in northern coastal heathlands on the island of Lygra, Hordaland, Norway

  • Published source details Måren I.E., Vandvik V. & Ekelund K. (2008) Effectiveness of chemical and mechanical bracken Pteridium aquilinum control treatments in northern coastal heathlands on the island of Lygra, Hordaland, Norway. Conservation Evidence, 5, 12-17.


In a 7-year field experiment undertaken in western Norway, the efficiency of four bracken control measures on a heathland was investigated: application of two herbicides i) Asulox®- and ii) Gratil®-with follow-up annual cutting; iii) annual cutting; and iv) biannual cutting. Assessments were also made as to what extent the characteristic species composition and vegetation structure of heathlands were restored, and effects of the herbicides on non-target plant species commonly found on heaths. Fastest reduction in bracken cover resulted from herbicide application, but cutting proved equally efficient in the longer term; Asulox and biannual cutting both reduced bracken cover from over 70% to below 10% in 2 years, while annual cutting achieved this in 5 years. Gratil failed to have long-term effects. Species composition progressed towards a desirable heathland vegetation community, but successional trajectories differed, and Asulox had minor unintended effects on a number of heathland plants, including heather Calluna vulgaris, several grasses, herbs and mosses. These effects could not be predicted by functional group or other simple species characteristics. However, any short-term detrimental effects of Asulox application were considered to be outweighed by the beneficial longer term effects of reduced bracken cover, which allowed re-establishment of the heathland flora.

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