Bracken a dan­ger to her­itage

Country Life Every Week - - Town & Country -

HIS­TORIC ENG­LAND has launched a four-year re­search project into how to con­trol bracken and stop it caus­ing dam­age to an­cient mon­u­ments and ar­chae­o­log­i­cal re­mains.

Pi­lot projects funded by Nat­u­ral Eng­land and His­toric Eng­land have al­ready ex­am­ined the im­pact of con- trol meth­ods such as sheep and cat­tle graz­ing and bash­ing on ar­eas of the Northum­ber­land Na­tional Park. The re­sult­ing in­tel­li­gence was that, al­though ef­fec­tive against bracken growth, graz­ing also dam­ages an­cient in­fra­struc­ture. The re­search has now been ex­panded to two sites in Northum­ber­land and one on Dart­moor.

Con­crete cylin­ders have been buried at the sites and re­search con­sul­tant Ket­mar is mon­i­tor­ing the dam­age from bracken rhi­zomes and the ef­fect of con­trol meth­ods on these sim­u­lated ar­chae­o­log­i­cal re­mains.

‘Bracken has a 20-year life cy­cle and be­haves dif­fer­ently at var­i­ous stages in this cy­cle,’ says Ket­mar’s David Oat­way, ‘so it’s im­por­tant to con­duct our re­search at a num­ber of sites and in dif­fer­ent cli­mates. It’s very early days, but what we do find will be im­por­tant to in­form the fu­ture man­age­ment of bracken at an­cient and his­toric sites.’ Char­lotte Cooper

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