Heather Moorland Plagioclimax

This contains detailed information about the Heather Moorland Plagioclimax including it's management. It includes a case study on the North York Moors National Park, although a lot of the other information could be linked to this case study too. I've focused on the grouse shooting, but you could look at sheep farming here too.

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  • Heather Moorland Plagioclimax
    • Management and threats to heather moorland
      • Threats
        • Overgrazing
          • Reduces heather cover and reduces productivity
          • To minimise this, livestock should be removed between 1st Nov and 28th Feb when heather is most vulnerable.
        • Uncontrolled burning
          • Controlled burning of heather can sometimes be a vital part of the regeneration and management
            • May cause harm if is done irresponsibly
          • No burning must take place between 15th April and 31st August, and areas where peat depth exceeds half a metre should not be burnt.
        • Peat Extraction
          • Mechanical Peat Extraction can severely damage moorland vegetation.
          • Planning permission may be needed for peat extraction.
        • Bracken Invasion
          • Burning can encourage bracken to spread out and shades regenerating heather.
          • It is managed by cutting the leaves twice yearly, repeated over a number of seasons.
          • Herbicides may also be used sparingly to control the bracken.
      • Stage 1 - Pioneer Phase (0-5 years)
        • Stage 2 - Building Phase (5-12 years)
          • Stage 3 - Mature Phase (12-19 years)
            • Stage 4 - Degenerate Phase (20 + years)
              • Stage 1 - Pioneer Phase (0-5 years)
                • Stage 2 - Building Phase (5-12 years)
                  • Stage 3 - Mature Phase (12-19 years)
                    • Stage 4 - Degenerate Phase (20 + years)
                      • Heather starts to die. Poor food and shelter for grouse.
                    • Burning of heather the speed up regeneration (this is known as MUIRBURN in Scotland)
                      • Plant becomes woody and heavy, and % cover falls.
                      • Here is may be necessary to burn heather for optimum habitat for grouse.
                    • High % cover, develops a dense blanket of green shoots.
                    • Good food and shelter for breeding grouse
                  • New heather begins to colonise amongst old heather shoots
                  • Good food but limited shelter for red grouse
                • Heather starts to die. Poor food and shelter for grouse.
              • Burning of heather the speed up regeneration (this is known as MUIRBURN in Scotland)
                • Plant becomes woody and heavy, and % cover falls.
                • Here is may be necessary to burn heather for optimum habitat for grouse.
              • High % cover, develops a dense blanket of green shoots.
              • Good food and shelter for breeding grouse
            • New heather begins to colonise amongst old heather shoots
            • Good food but limited shelter for red grouse
        • Heather moorland case study
          • North York Moors National Park
            • Managed by the national park authorities
            • Bell Heather, Cross Leaved Heather and Ling.
            • Burning leaves 'patchwork quilt affect' on the landscape.
              • Leaves new shoots as food for grouse and older, taller shoots where the red grouse can shelter
            • Gamekeepers to manage area
            • Money from grouse shooting is used to look after the other plants and animals on the moor.
        • What is heather moorland?
          • Heather moorlands are unfenced upland areas characterised by heather (caluna vulgaris), bell heather and cross-leaf heath.
          • The largest proportion of the remaining heather moorland is in the British Isles, and is under considerable threat.
            • Threats
              • Overgrazing
                • Reduces heather cover and reduces productivity
                • To minimise this, livestock should be removed between 1st Nov and 28th Feb when heather is most vulnerable.
              • Uncontrolled burning
                • Controlled burning of heather can sometimes be a vital part of the regeneration and management
                  • May cause harm if is done irresponsibly
                • No burning must take place between 15th April and 31st August, and areas where peat depth exceeds half a metre should not be burnt.
              • Peat Extraction
                • Mechanical Peat Extraction can severely damage moorland vegetation.
                • Planning permission may be needed for peat extraction.
              • Bracken Invasion
                • Burning can encourage bracken to spread out and shades regenerating heather.
                • It is managed by cutting the leaves twice yearly, repeated over a number of seasons.
                • Herbicides may also be used sparingly to control the bracken.
          • Responsible management is responsible for its long-term survival.
          • Agricultural support payments may be withheld from farmers who overgraze or cause environmental damage.
          • Famous for the shooting of red grouse. The moorland needs to be maintained at the ideal habitat for the red grouse to shelter/ breed. Also known for the grazing of the black faced sheep.

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