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Evaluating management techniques for controlling Molinia caerulea and enhancing Calluna vulgaris on upland wet heathland in northern England, UK

Ross, Sarah, Adamson, Helen, Moon, Anne
Agriculture, ecosystems & environment 2003 v.97 no.1-3 pp. 39-49
Calluna vulgaris, Molinia caerulea, burning, cutting, ewes, heathlands, herbicides, highlands, pesticide application, regrowth, shrubs, stocking rate, England
The effectiveness of three treatments in controlling Molinia caerulea, while enhancing Calluna vulgaris, was compared on an upland wet heathland in northern England. The treatments applied were burning, burning followed by cutting, or burning followed by herbicide ('Fusilade') application, along with an unburned control. The treatments were applied under two different stocking rates of 1.5 and 0.66 ewes/ha, as prescribed for English upland dwarf shrub Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA) schemes. The burning followed by herbicide application gave some short-term reduction in Molinia frequency, and no increase in dominance under 1.5 ewes/ha. Burning followed by cutting had little effect on Molinia frequency under either stocking rate and increased the dominance of Molinia under 0.66 ewes/ha. Burning alone increased Molinia dominance under the lower stocking rate. Burning had the single most significant effect on Calluna, reducing its dominance and frequency, as re-establishment was not significantly affected by the additional treatments of cutting or herbicide application. Any supplementary treatment (herbicide or cutting) in addition to burning did not effectively control the regrowth of Molinia, emphasising the need for careful assessment of Calluna-Molinia wet heath prior to embarking on a heather-burning plan, to ensure Molinia does not gain dominance.