Development of the ground flora during the natural regeneration of broadleaved trees and shrubs

Development of the ground flora can be extensive following the forest operations carried out to promote natural regeneration. The changes in the ground flora within both temporary and permanent plots have been observed at a variety of sites in order to investigate how they may influence the survival and growth of tree and shrub seedlings.

Research has aimed to study the change in vegetation with time, competition between the ground flora and tree seedlings, and the influence of vegetation management on seedling establishment. 

Observations have included changes in the frequency and cover of both individual species and categories of vegetation within the ground flora of permanent quadrats in the years immediately after thinning or felling native broadleaved woodland or PAWS.  Contemporary studies of tree and shrub seedlings made within the same quadrats will allow investigation of the relationships between the vegetation present and the establishment of tree seedlings.

Bramble is often a dominant component of the ground flora of many woodlands and its growth and development have been studied in more detail than other species.  This has included a survey of tree regeneration on clear-felled sites to investigate the hypothesis that bramble may be beneficial for the establishment of tree seedlings.

Does bramble facilitate the natural regeneration of broadleaved trees? (PDF-296K).
Harmer, R. and Morgan, G. (2005). Unpublished Forest Research Report.

Report on bramble meeting (PDF-21K)
Brief notes of the presentations made at the British Ecological Society – Forest Ecology Group meeting held on 21st June 2006.

The publications include some of the experiments on this subject.

Change in vegetation - an example

These photographs show the change in vegetation present during May over a 4-year-period from one dominated by bluebells to one dominated by bramble.  The plot was in a small cleared area within an ash woodland from which deer and rabbits were excluded.

  • Vegetation present during May - Year 1
    Year 1
  • Vegetation present during May - Year 2
    Year 2
  • Vegetation present during May - Year 3
    Year 3
  • Vegetation present during May - Year 4
    Year 4