myForest to support deer management

posted on June 9, 2017

Over the last 18 months Sylva Foundation has been working with the Deer Initiative, grant-funded by Forestry Commission England and Natural England, to develop new functionality in myForest that will allow land owners and managers to create Deer Management Plans and collate annual monitoring data.

All six species of deer have increased in density and range nationally over the last 40 years. As deer populations have increased, their impact on the ground flora and the structure of woods has increased considerably, in particular the impact of fallow and muntjac in lowland woodlands.

Priority Areas for Deer Management

Priority Areas for Deer Management

The impact of deer on woodland biodiversity may be positive at low population densities. However at high densities deer browsing alters three elements in a woodland: regeneration potential, woodland structure, and ground flora diversity and abundance. Impacts on these elements have ramifications for species that use them as habitat and food. Species affected by these changes in structure and flora include populations of butterflies, other invertebrates, smaller mammals, birds, and their predators.

Collaborative, landscape-scale management of deer populations is key to helping address the issue of high deer populations in woodlands. Five priority areas (see map) have been identified in England in which to focus efforts where deer are having a particular impact on priority sites such as SSSI woodlands. In these areas landowners can receive additional support from the Deer Initiative to organise collaborative action across landscapes.

To aid in collaborative management Sylva Foundation has been working with the Deer Initiative to promote information sharing using the myForest service in order to build a comprehensive picture of deer and their management at the landscape scale. Anyone using the new deer management functionality on myForest will have their information stored safely and securely, managed under Sylva Foundation’s Privacy Policy. We have also created the possibility for users (if they chose to) to share their information with local Deer Initiative Officers which will help the Deer Initiative monitor deer impact across priority areas allowing them to prioritise assistance.

annual cull monitoring screenshot

Anual cull monitoring screenshot from myForest – public launch scheduled in October

Although this functionality has been specifically developed for use in the five priority areas, we hope it will be useful to users across England, and indeed in Scotland and Wales.

The functionality is currently being tested and the planned launch date is 1st October.

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