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Impacts of large herbivores on woodlands

Home research Impacts of large herbivores on woodlands


The aim of this programme was to improve our advice both on reducing the damage caused by large herbivores as well as on the use of large herbivores as a management tool to achieve biodiversity objectives. The project is now discontinued but has been included for information and advice.

Research objectives

  • To improve our understanding of the factors affecting the relationship between herbivores densities and damage to young trees and ground flora in commercial and non-commercial woodlands
  • To assess the long-term implications of herbivore impacts in woodlands, and the effects on fauna and bio-diversity
  • To develop computer models that will help managers to predict future deer populations and the impact of large herbivores on woodlands
  • To develop both quantitative and qualitative methods of assessing the impact of deer and domestic stock on woodlands
  • Monitor, develop and improve techniques and materials for cost-effective protection of trees and woodlands from damage by deer, rabbits and voles
  • To further develop existing methods of assessing deer population density.


Publications about:

Decision support tools and guides

  • Deer model – red deer population dynamics model
  • Woodland Grazing Toolbox – guide to developing a woodland grazing plan to decide what sort of grazing best suits your woodland

Funders and partners

Most of this work forms part of the Vertebrate management research programme funded by the Forestry Commission.

Work on some projects is performed in partnership with and is funded by other institutions and organisations.

Forestry Commission policy

The Forestry Commission implements Government policy on both woodland biodiversity and sustainability. Deer and stock can have a major impact on both the biodiversity value of woodlands and on their sustainable management. Our research improves the guidance we provide to woodland managers on achieving the desired impact.

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