Woodland Damage: Recognition of Cause(1)

Aim

Woodlands may be susceptible to a number of damaging agents. Identifying the cause of damage an early stage is important, before the impacts become an expensive/ecological problem. The aim of this guide is to provide information to help with the identification process.

key:
effects of damage type to woodland
leaf no effect
leaf no significant losses
leaf can cause significant economic loss but woodland can survive
leaf can cause complete loss of woodland

 

Recognising causes of damage

The following steps may help in assessing damage:
A. Read the signs. In most cases the causes will be apparent on close examination. Some knowledge of site history will be useful.
B. If in doubt, use the questions below to help identify potential causes.
C. Check the individual descriptions to confirm damage type and assess the potential extent of the effects of the damage depending on the age class of tree (i.e. seedling, sapling, mature).

Environment
Environment Signs:Trees may be damaged or stressed by a range of environmental factors including water-logging, nutient deficiency, frost damage, lightning strikes and drought.

leaf leaf leaf

Insect
Insects Signs: Main species affecting trees are large pine weevil on restocking sites, common weevil on ex farmland planting sites, aphids and moth larvae. Can all cause damage usually by defoliation.

leaf leaf leaf

Vole
Voles Signs – Vole runs can be seen when grass is cut or after snow has melted.
Damage description: Removes bark of young trees and shrubs below level of surrounding vegetation. May cause damage higher up stem when snow provides cover.

leaf leaf leaf

Squirrel
Squirrels Damage description: Can strip bark at a range of heights. Damage at base of tree can be similar to rabbits. Bark removed higher up stem will tend to be 1-2 cm wide and several cm long.

leaf leaf leaf

Hare
Hares Signs: Rounded and fibrous droppings larger than rabbit droppings. Damage description: Browses young trees – stems cut cleanly at a sharp angle. Cut stem usually left uneaten.

leaf leaf leaf

Rabbit
Rabbits Signs: Rounded and fibrous droppings, often deposited in latrine areas in high numbers. Burrows and freshly dug earth often visible.
Damage description: Browses young trees – stems cut cleanly at a sharp angle. Bark stripping on young trees and on thin barked mature trees. Damage usually no more than 0.5m high but can be higher if snow cover allows higher access.

leaf leaf leaf
No   Question Go to
1 leaf •Seedling
(young tree, below 1m high).
go2
leaf •Sapling
(young tree, 1– 3m high).
go13
leaf •Mature
(all older trees).
go21

 

Seedlings

No Question Y/N Go to
2 Is seedling foliage brown, yellow or shrivelled ? Y:
N:
goenvironmental
go3
3 Has bark been removed? Y:
N:
go4
8
4 Are teeth marks visible on close inspection? Y:
N:
go5
go6
5 Size of teeth marks 1-2 mm   govoles
5 Size of teeth marks 3-4 mm   gorabbits
6 Has bark been rubbed off ? Y:
N:
godeer
go7
7 Has bark been removed without any marks on underlying wood? Y:
N:
goinsects (large pine weevil)
goother signs?
8 Have leaves and small shoots been eaten? Y:
N:
go9
go12
9 Are severed ends at a sharp angle and clean cut? Y:
N:
go10
go11
10 Have severed shoots been left uneaten? Y:
N:
gohares
gorabbits
11 Do severed shoots have a ragged end? Y:
N:
golarge herbivore
goother signs?
12 Have only needles or leaves been eaten? Y:
N:
gonormally insects
gobirds

Continue in Woodland Damage Recognition (2)

Key to symbols

  • This symbol highlights a legal requirement. It is an offence not to comply.
  • This symbol highlights an action or task required in order to safeguard public safety, food safety and animal welfare.  
  • This symbol highlights an action or task required in order to carry out the task effectively.

see further key to these symbols