Use herbicide and remove leaf litter to control bracken

How is the evidence assessed?
  • Effectiveness
    27%
  • Certainty
    12%
  • Harms
    2%

Source countries

Key messages

  • One randomized, controlled study in the UK found that using herbicide and removing leaf litter did not increase total plant biomass after eight years. The same study found that for three of six years, heather biomass was higher in areas where herbicide was sprayed and leaf litter was removed than in areas that were sprayed with herbicide.

About key messages

Key messages provide a descriptive index to studies we have found that test this intervention.

Studies are not directly comparable or of equal value. When making decisions based on this evidence, you should consider factors such as study size, study design, reported metrics and relevance of the study to your situation, rather than simply counting the number of studies that support a particular interpretation.

Supporting evidence from individual studies

  1. A randomized, controlled study in 1978–1986 in a heathland in Suffolk, UK (Lowday & Marrs 1992) found that the application of herbicide to bracken Pteridium aquilinium followed by the removal of leaf litter and did not increase total plant biomass after eight years, but increased the biomass of heather Calluna vulgaris in three of six years. In August 1978 all plots were sprayed with the herbicide asulam. After herbicide application, leaf litter was removed in four 12 m2 plots and in four plots leaf litter was not removed. Vegetation was visually estimated annually in each plot June or July in 1979-1986.

    Study and other actions tested
Please cite as:

Martin P.A., Rocha R., Smith R.K. & Sutherland W.J. (2018) Shrubland and Heathland Conservation. Pages 447-494 in: W.J. Sutherland, L.V. Dicks, N. Ockendon, S.O. Petrovan & R.K. Smith (eds) What Works in Conservation 2018. Open Book Publishers, Cambridge, UK.

Where has this evidence come from?

List of journals searched by synopsis

All the journals searched for all synopses

Shrubland and Heathland Conservation

This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:

Shrubland and Heathland Conservation
Shrubland and Heathland Conservation

Shrubland and Heathland Conservation - Published 2017

Shrubland and Heathland synopsis

What Works in Conservation

What Works in Conservation

What Works in Conservation assesses the research looking at whether interventions are beneficial or not. It is based on summarised evidence in synopses, on topics such as amphibians, bats, biodiversity in European farmland, and control of freshwater invasive species. More are available and in progress.

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