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Forest Research home > Research > Protecting trees > Reducing the impact of non-native or invasive vertebrates to forestry

Mammal damage to trees and woodland

Montage: roe deer, rabbit and grey squirrelSummary

Damage by some woodland mammals can have a significant impact on trees of all ages and on the wider woodland ecosystems by:

  • Preventing tree establishment, healthy growth or good timber quality
  • Preventing the development of a structurally diverse shrub layer
  • Reducing the abundance of palatable plants such as bramble, bluebell, dog’s mercury and honeysuckle
  • Increasing the abundance of grasses and unpalatable species such as bracken, rushes and ragwort
  • Reducing the structural diversity of ground vegetation (a particular problem with close grazing by deer or rabbits).

This programme provides research into methods for:

  • Reducing the impact of mammal damage on trees and woodland
  • Reducing the impact of deer fences on sensitive species such as woodland grouse.

Research objectives

  • Monitor, develop and improve techniques and materials for cost-effective protection of trees and woodlands from damage by deer, rabbits and voles
  • Monitor, develop and improve techniques and materials to reduce the impact of forest fencing on capercaillie and black grouse
  • Continue to develop novel techniques and provide advice on best practice to enable land managers to reduce damage to acceptable levels.

Funders and partners

Forestry Commission logo
This research is funded by the Forestry Commission Vertebrate management programme.

Forestry Commission policy

Prevention of mammal damage to enhance establishment, regeneration and woodland biodiversity is acknowledged in the Forestry Strategies for:


Mark Ferryman