Friday 27 April 2018

Botanists twig that deer are good for the forest

Grazing deer in oak woodlands benefits diversity, say Trinity College scientists.
Grazing deer in oak woodlands benefits diversity, say Trinity College scientists.

Ed Carty

Hungry deer should not be barred from protected native forests, botanists have declared.

A decades-long study of national parks in Ireland has found that grazing deer in oak woodlands is actually good for diversity and helps prevent some plants from taking over the valuable ecosystem.

Researchers found that if red and sika deer and the red-sika hybrid are fenced off, or shot in annual culls as a way of protecting the forest, it becomes significantly less diverse.

But botanists from the School of Natural Sciences in Trinity College Dublin warned that attempts to reintroduce deer should be in moderation as uncontrolled grazing will damage the woods.

A network of seven experimental deer "exclosures" were surveyed periodically in three national parks in Ireland over 41 years to explain how woods grow over time.

Press Association

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