AHNE Bryniau Clwyd / Clwydian Range AONB

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Keeping the heather healthy

Over a certain age heather plants become leggy and degenerate. In this condition they're of very little use for moorland inhabitants and will begin to die and be replaced by other plants.

Managing on a 15-year rotation ensures we have heather of various different ages –young growth for livestock and wildlife, and deeper vegetation which provides shelter and nesting for birds.

Burning and cutting the heather helps to keep the moorland healthy and also controls the spread of heather beetle, which threatens to kill large areas of upland.

Burning

Heather seed lies dormant in the soil but, during burning, the heat and smoke crack the seed and promote germination. Areas of old heather will regenerate in the first year with bilberry, quickly followed by a vigorous carpet of new heather.

Heather burning

Cutting

Cutting is slightly less effective than burning. The vegetation tends to regenerate more slowly and with more bilberry in the mix. But one person can do it, in any weather, and the area of the cut can be easily managed.

Controlling bracken and gorse

Bracken, the favoured habitat for sheep ticks, is best controlled by spraying with a herbicide at the end of July and beginning of August. This treatment has been very effective in increasing the area of land fit for grazing. Annual rolling also works well.

Cutting is best for gorse. It recovers slowly, giving other species such as heather and bilberry the chance to compete. 

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