Competition by non-native plants
Invasive species can be very damaging for ecosystems across the UK, particularly in the uplands. Species such as Rhododendron ponticum and conifers such as Sitka spruce and larch, which are not native to the moorlands, have been introduced for differing reasons over the years.
Some of these species have few predators and as such are able to spread and out-compete native species resulting in a deterioration of the habitat and many of them dry out the peat, increasing the risk of wildfire.
In addition, there are some native species that can be problematic, often because of past management. For example, large scale burning can cause the establishment of large stands of purple moor-grass (Molinia caerulea), which does not support many species.
Bracken (Pteridium aquilinum) is another species that can be very invasive, reducing the biodiversity of our upland habitats.
We are working on controlling invasive species across our projects, from hand-pulling of Rhododendron seedlings to aerial application of herbicides to kill bracken.
Trials to investigate control of purple moor-grass