Studies on the conservation of lowland Calluna heaths. I. Control of birch and bracken and its effect on heath vegetation

  • Published source details Marrs R.H. (1987) Studies on the conservation of lowland Calluna heaths. I. Control of birch and bracken and its effect on heath vegetation. Journal of Applied Ecology, 24, 163-175.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Cut trees and apply herbicide

Action Link
Shrubland and Heathland Conservation
  1. Cut trees and apply herbicide

    A replicated, controlled, before-and-after, paired study in 1980–1985 in a heathland in the UK (Marrs 1987) found that cutting silver birch  trees Betula pendula and applying herbicide reduced their abundance when compared to cutting alone, and increased cover of wavy-hair grass Deschampsia flexuosa, but did not alter cover of common heather Calluna vulgaris. In four of four years, areas where silver birch had been cut and herbicide applied had lower number of silver birch (0–3 trees/200 m2) than areas where cutting alone was used (7–10 trees/200 m2). Cutting silver birch trees and applying herbicide did not alter cover of common heather relative to cutting alone (no data presented). After five years cover of wavy-hair grass was higher in plots where silver birch was cut and herbicide used (26–37%) than in plots where cutting along was carried out (8%). In January 1980 sixteen 10 x 20 m plots were established. All silver birch trees in the plots were cut at a height of 10 cm and removed from the site. Following this, in four plots all stumps were painted with the herbicide 2,4,5-T, in four plots the herbicide fosamine was sprayed, in four plots both fosamine and 2,4,5-T were used, and in four plots no herbicide was applied. In July 1980, 1981, 1982, and 1985 the number of silver birch trees in plots were counted. Vegetation cover was estimated in plots by eye.

    (Summarised by: Phil Martin)

Output references
What Works 2021 cover

What Works in Conservation

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.

More about What Works in Conservation

Download free PDF or purchase
The Conservation Evidence Journal

The Conservation Evidence Journal

An online, free to publish in, open-access journal publishing results from research and projects that test the effectiveness of conservation actions.

Read the latest volume: Volume 21

Go to the CE Journal

Discover more on our blog

Our blog contains the latest news and updates from the Conservation Evidence team, the Conservation Evidence Journal, and our global partners in evidence-based conservation.

Who uses Conservation Evidence?

Meet some of the evidence champions

Endangered Landscape ProgrammeRed List Champion - Arc Kent Wildlife Trust The Rufford Foundation Save the Frogs - Ghana Mauritian Wildlife Supporting Conservation Leaders
Sustainability Dashboard National Biodiversity Network Frog Life The international journey of Conservation - Oryx Cool Farm Alliance UNEP AWFA Bat Conservation InternationalPeople trust for endangered species Vincet Wildlife Trust