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The management of rabbits in farm woodlands - WD0102

Rabbits are the most important pest in new plantations of trees, causing great damage to the trees and also to surround crops. A third of initial planting costs are due to the need to protect trees from rabbits.

This project aims to provide advice for woodland managers on where to plant farm forests and when and how to reduce rabbit damage:

1) To find the density above which rabbit management is required for unguarded trees and for trees with ageing guards.
2) To develop a method to predict from rabbit and vole field signs and the state of vegetation in young plantings when rabbit management should be initiated.
3) To determine from first generation farmland plantings whether decisions on siting and site management strategies can ensure low potential for rabbit damage in existing and future plantings.
4) To develop management options including improved fencing and rabbit removal to prevent/control damage at and beyond the establishment phase.
To identify the natural unpalatability of young trees to mammals and improve these characteristics so that more suitable planting stock can be provided for areas at risk. To evaluate and enhance options for the physical protection of young trees by guards and fences to prevent attack by mammal pests. To develop vegetation management stategies, including mulch mats to reduce herbicide inputs, to lower the potential for the build up of pest mammals. To assess damage levels and develop management options for larger deer in FWS plantings.
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 1991

To: 1994

Cost: £475,000
Contractor / Funded Organisations
ADAS UK Ltd., Central Science Laboratory
Fields of Study
Farm Woodlands