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Management of lowland heath to sustain and enhance biodiversity - BD1506

Description
The main objective of the project is to develop management practices that sustain and enhance the biodiversity of recently-restored grass/Calluna heath in the Brecklands Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA). Lowland heath has been designated as a habitat for priority action under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan, which requires that some 6000 ha of lowland heath are re-created by 2005. It is likely that much of this re-creation will occur on farmland which has been taken out of productive agriculture under agri-environment schemes. Past experience suggests that the re-creation of heathland on farmland can be difficult to achieve and sustain in the longer-term.

Recent MAFF-funded research (BD1501/2/3) at two sites in the Brecklands ESA has identified a number of techniques to restore heathland vegetation on ex-arable land. In particular, the application of elemental sulphur to increase soil acidity has enabled the initial establishment of Calluna. However, invasion and competition from unsown grasses represents a serious threat to the long-term maintenance of established Calluna and grass species at these sites as the swards are dense, thereby reducing the potential for colonisation and spread of sown species. This study will evaluate the effects of grazing and cutting as management techniques to ‘open-up’ the swards and assist in controlling the competitive species, and will assess the effects of the management treatments on soil nutrient status and pH.

The results will contribute to the formulation of management prescriptions for the successful re-creation and maintenance of lowland heath, and assist in the attainment of ESA and Countryside Stewardship policy objectives.
Objective
The overall aim of the project is to develop management practices that sustain and enhance the biodiversity of recently restored grass/Calluna heath in the Breckland ESA.

The specific objectives are:

1. To evaluate the effects of cutting and sheep grazing on the biodiversity of recently restored grass/Calluna heath in the Breckland ESA.

2. To determine the medium-term effects of heathland reversion techniques on soil nutrient status and pH

3. To provide recommendations on the management of recently restored heathland to maintain and enhance biodiversity.
Project Documents
• Final Report : Management of lowland heath to sustain and enhance biodiversity   (836k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 1999

To: 2004

Cost: £120,793
Contractor / Funded Organisations
ADAS UK Ltd.
Keywords
Agricultural Land              
Biodiversity              
Environmental Protection              
Heathland              
Land              
Fields of Study
Environmental Stewardship