Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Heather Beetle 2018

Heather beetle damage on young heather

We’ve been receiving reports of heather beetle from supporters and contacts over the last few weeks, and it is clear that the 2018 beetle season is now in full swing. We were interested to hear how the beetles would be impacted by the recent cold spring and dry summer, and now we are finding that damage is getting underway as heather begins to flower.

The Heather Trust has been leading the field in heather beetle research for the past ten years, and our beetle survey is the only formal attempt to gather information on beetle outbreaks in Britain. We have been hearing from small lowland heaths, nature reserves, farms and grouse moors across the UK since 2007, and we have amassed lots of information in that time. Last year’s survey gave us details of damage across 16,500 acres of heather moorland, from Exmoor to Sutherland, and we are now planning to pass that information over to scientists so that it can be analysed and trends can be identified. Moorland managers need up-to-date information on beetle damage, and we hope that this information will help to shed light on where and how beetle outbreaks take place.

It is important to remember that direct action to control beetle outbreaks in progress are rarely successful and can risk causing more harm than good. The Heather Trust has long argued that moorland managers should focus on restoring damage in the aftermath of an outbreak, and we have commissioned studies to explore the efficacy of different management techniques at Langholm Moor and in the Derbyshire Peak District. We are always happy to discuss management options with our members, and we offer an advisory service to provide help and guidance for anyone who needs support after an outbreak of heather beetle.

If you have seen heather beetle damage this summer, please let us know. We have a survey form to download on our website, and we have produced some basic guides to help you identify beetle damage and differentiate it from water stress, frosting and other causes. 

If you are in any doubt, please get in touch!

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Leverhulme Emeritus Fellowship to continue long-term experiments in the British Uplands

Professor Rob Marrs, from the University of Liverpool's School of Environmental Sciences, has been
awarded a prestigious Leverhulme Emeritus Fellowship to continue his groundbreaking pioneering research on the management of British upland landscapes.

Professor Marrs, who has been the Bulley Professor of Applied Plant Biology for the last 27 years and currently teaches Ecology and Environmental Science, said: "I am honoured and delighted to receive this award as it allows me to continue my experimental research on land management into retirement.  The award will allow the continuation of long-term experiments on bracken control.  Initially set up in 1993, these experiments in the Peak District (which can be seen from space) are now monitoring the speed of bracken recovery after the control measures have been stopped.  The award will provide funds for continued maintenance of these experiments, their annual monitoring and analysis of results.  It also supports very long-term experiments of Rewilding across a series of vegetation types where the effects of management removal will be compared to 'business-as-usual' management."

The work will be undertaken at the Environmental Change Network's site at Moor House National Nature Reserve in the north Pennines, where Professor Marrs has been researching for almost 40 years.  The experiments are unique in that some were set up in the mid-1950s through to 1967, but have had continued monitoring until 2016.

The award, which is for two years and starts January 2019, provides assistance of the analysis of these complex, long-term datasets and the presentation of the results at a series of conferences including local ones to inform land-managers, national ones to inform policy-makers and ecological consultants and international ones to publicise the underlying science at the global scale.

The Leverhulme application was made possible with a great deal of preparatory research over the last ten years funded by the Heather Trust.  All of the experiments within the projects are long-term intervention experiments and are included in the Ecological Continuity Trust's national inventory of important experiments.

Wellhope Syndicate enjoy visit by Professor Marrs

Wellhope Syndicate, Alston successfully bid in the Trust's Country Market & Sporting Sale for a days
consultancy visit by the eminent Professor Rob Marrs, University of Liverpool, expert on heather moorland ecology and President of The Heather Trust.

A member of the syndicate reported back: "His advice was so interesting and very useful because we are about to negotiate with Natural England, the longterm development plan for our moor.  Professor Marrs input will add a huge amount of weight to the proposition we want to include in our plan!"