The New Forest Bracken Survey (Cox, 2013) states that there is no evidence that bracken cover has increased in the New Forest but confirms that excessive build up of bracken litter causes a decline in species diversity leading to a negative impact on the conservation interest of the bracken dominated habitats.
A key conclusion is that management of bracken stands should therefore aim to reduce the depth and cover of bracken litter in habitat groups identified to have above 3cm of thatch.
Additional to the FC bracken management programme (currently 100ha) supplementary bracken management is proposed as part of this HLS terrestrial habitat restoration programme.
This would consist of:
- 35ha annual summer/autumn forage harvesting
- 12ha annual winter harvest (dead bracken).
Multi-management approach study
As part of this HLS habitat restoration programme the Forestry Commission is proposing to run trials to increase the diversity of plant species in areas of thick bracken thatch.