2Heather (Calluna vulgaris) A dominant plant of British heathlands, grows in four main stages:PioneerBuildingMatureDegenerate
3Pioneer Phase5 - 6 years, from seedling development and establishment until the plant has developed into a fully formed bush.Heather cover is small and other species of vascular plants reach their greatest abundance, also mosses and lichens.
4Building PhaseUp to about 15 years old, until the bush-like form is well-established.Heather excludes all other species.
5Mature Phase To about 25 years old. Heather dominant, but becoming woodyGrowth becomes less vigorous the centre of the bush begins to open and branches grow on the soil surface.Bryophytes (mainly mosses) colonize the soil surface because of increased humidity beneath the closed canopy.
6Degenerate Phase after 30 years, leads to death active growth declines and the plant canopy continues to open and exposes more ground.Bryophytes reach their maximum abundance, other species of vascular plants and Heather seedlings are able to re-establish.
7Heather management Prevent succession to woodland Regenerate heather Young shoots eaten by grouse and sheepPioneer phase important for invertebratesInvertebrates are food for chicksSmall patches/strips produce edges give access to cover
9Grazing Helps prevent invasion by trees and shrubs Encourages branching and layeringTrampling opens up canopy, creates pathsHigh stocking densities (>1.5 ewes ha-1) reduces heather cover in favour of grasses
10Cutting Narrow strips give long edges Not weather dependent No risk of wild fireLayering possibleLess wildlife value than burning
11Burning Kills heather beetles and ticks Cracks open seeds Ash releases nutrientsNo litter to inhibit seedingLooks ‘natural’May encourage bracken invasion
12Conservation management Black grouseOpen woodland and moorland
13Conservation management Hen HarrierInvertebrates