Woodlands And Wild Deer

Wild Venison - Wild Deer and Woodlands

Woodlands and
Wild Deer

Wild Deer Management

Many different organisations in the UK are committed to the professional management of woodlands and wild deer. Here are a few comments from these organisations outlining the need for the professional management of wild deer.

Natural England

For forestry there is a stock management issue, causing damaging browsing particularly from deer in the lowlands. Management of the deer population needs to be addressed.

Management of deer and
sheep browsing/grazing

Large herbivores are a natural part of woodland systems and in wood-pastures grazing maintains the mosaic of habitats and the species for which the site is important. However, the intensive browsing and grazing associated with the increased numbers of sheep in the uplands and deer in the lowlands has affected many woodland SSSIs.

At some sites this has changed the structure and composition of the woods, by reducing the shrubs and ground plants, often losing key species or preventing regeneration of the woodland trees. This last may deter owners from undertaking woodland management because, for example, coppice re-growth simply gets eaten.

Coppice re-growth failed in Monks Wood as a result of browsing by muntjac deer, and the ground flora became dominated by sedges and grasses. By contrast, re-growth from stools at Ham Street is vigorous and woodland flowers such as Bluebell thrive.” For more information from Natural England see their website.

Forestry England/Forestry & Land scotland

"Deer can have an adverse impact on woodland vegetation and simplify vertical structure by selectively browsing on herbs, shrubs and young trees. Vegetation changes brought about by deer browsing are also detrimental to some vertebrate and invertebrate woodland fauna. Without appropriate management, deer populations will impose long-term changes on the composition of native woodlands.

In Britain, oak, ash, hazel, rowan and willows are usually found to be the most vulnerable broadleaves.

A number of rare or nationally important flowering plants are also now known to be susceptible to deer. Bluebells and dog’s mercury can be depleted by muntjac browsing and oxlips by red deer. Muntjac also feed on early purple orchids, common spotted orchids, wood anemones and ladies smock, and reduce pollination and reproductive success in lords and ladies.

In general, deer either eliminate or retard the growth of young trees, shrubs and herbs, allowing grasses and a few unpalatable species such as bracken and rushes to increase."

For more information from the Forestry England see their website.

Small Woods Association

“Coppicing in woods that have traditionally been managed as coppice can help conserve wildlife adapted to this process of regular cutting and regrowth of new shoots from the cut stumps.

The cut poles can be put to many uses, perhaps the most important of these has been firewood. Many species of birds and butterflies have become rarer as this management technique has declined. However it is now essential to protect coppiced areas from browsing by increasing numbers of deer or livestock.”

For more information from the Small Woods Association see their website.

British Deer Society

“In order to ensure the welfare of deer, protecting them from starvation due to overgrazing, and from road traffic accidents, it is important that they are managed.

It is equally important to protect other creatures sharing their habitat from the results of overgrazing, as well as to prevent the deer from causing unacceptable damage to crops and trees.”

For more information from the British Deer Society see their website

Royal Forestry Society

“Bluebells also suffer from deer grazing particularly from the introduced Muntjac or barking deer in southern England.”

For more information from the Royal Forestry Society see their website

Government Minister for Biodiversity

“Deer hunters are to be given greater licence to kill Britain’s largest native land animals, which may be at their most populous since before the Norman conquest.

Changes in climate, habitat and agriculture have sent populations soaring, posing problems to other wildlife and causing about 15 deaths and 300 injuries to people each year in road accidents”

For more information on Government policy visit the Guardian Newspaper