Monday, 27 October 2014

Heather Beetle Briefing

Adult heather beetle
This briefing will be presented at the Moorland Forum meeting on 31 October 2014.

In response to the large amount of concern about the threat that heather beetle could pose to the continuation of heather cover, the Heather Trust set up a UK-wide survey of heather beetle outbreaks in 2006 and has run this survey from its own resources, ever since.  It cannot be a complete record, but the survey is providing an indication of the geographical range and extent of heather beetle damage.
There remains a widely held belief that heather beetle is a self-correcting problem. This can be the case when there is a minor outbreak, in young heather, on dry heath, where there is little competition from other species. Where this is not the case, the Trust believes that a heather beetle attack can result in permanent vegetation change to a monoculture of coarse grasses.

Members of the Moorland Forum members are encouraged to publicise concerns about heather beetle and to promote the heather beetle survey to anyone with an interest in heather moorland, even if only as a visitor.  Without a record of the impact of heather beetle, it is very difficult to build a case for the research that is required to improve our understanding of the beetle. The aim is to improve the knowledge of the beetle to a point where it would be possible to start to predict when an outbreak will take place and advise on how to avoid it, or at least minimise its impact.
As a separate issue, The Heather Trust is investigating the best way to regenerate heather cover after a beetle attack. The Trust is running trials on Langholm Moor and on two moors in the Peak District. In all these areas, heather beetle extensively damaged the heather during an attack before the restoration trial started. Different restoration techniques have been applied to different plots: cutting, burning and spray-burn-reseed; a fourth plot has had not treatment and is acting as a control. The Langholm project will report in 2015 and the Peak District in 2018. The aim of this work is to quantify the benefits of different approaches to restoration on different types of heather moorland.

The Priority Issue section of the Heather Trust's web site contains more information and the Heather Beetle Survey form can be downloaded.

No comments:

Post a Comment