Impacts of livestock in regenerating upland birch woodlands in Scotland

M. L. Pollock, J. M. Milner, A. Waterhouse, J. P. Holland, Colin Legg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Including large herbivores in wooded areas is often seen as a useful conservation tool. Browsing intensities on saplings in seven upland birch woodlands grazed by sheep, cattle and wild herbivores were studied. The aims were to determine whether tree regeneration could occur in the presence of livestock, particularly sheep, and the conditions under which stock can be grazed sustainably within woodlands.

The results showed that regeneration can occur at sites grazed by livestock. Within-site variation in the proportion of shoots browsed per sapling was high, but significant trends were detected. Browsing intensity was negatively related to good quality biomass per livestock unit, basal diameter and adjacent vegetation height. Saplings with a topiaried growth form were browsed more than saplings with a normal growth form.

When writing management plans, stocking densities should be set in relation to forage quantity and quality. Understanding the relationship between good quality biomass per livestock unit and browsing intensity will facilitate more sustainable management of grazing within woodlands.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)443-452
Number of pages10
JournalBiological conservation
Volume123
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2005

Keywords

  • Browsing intensity
  • Sheep
  • Cattle
  • Natural regeneration
  • Betula

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