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Nigel Symes (The RSPB)

Plate 6 Deer fencing is very expensive, but where deer pressure is high and there is no other means of control, may be

necessary to conserve woodland structure.

Woodland management for birds: Birds and woodlands in Wales

Issue: managing browsing activity


  • Exclusion. Wire fencing is potentially very expensive, but would provide long- term and total prevention of browsing providing all browsers have been excluded from the woodland. Fencing of woods may however, increase pressure on neighbouring woods so should only be considered as part of an area-wide deer management programme. Temporary fencing, eg electric fencing, can be cheaper.

  • Population management. Culling is clearly an option. Due to the complex ecology and ranging of deer and goat populations, this should be considered on a wider scale, probably involving several landowners working together in deer management groups.

  • Deterrents. Scent deterrents to prevent deer access have been trialled by the Forestry Commission with some success, but this requires an ongoing commitment to replenishing the scent packs, which can be prohibitive in many cases.

  • Tree and stool protection. Limiting browsing is essential for vigorous coppice regeneration, although very light levels of browsing can be beneficial and have minimal impact. Brash

fencing, or dead hedging, is time- consuming to construct, although where wire fencing is not an option and significant areas need to be protected it is perhaps the only viable option. Protecting individual saplings is best done with proprietary tree tubes, but these must be tall enough to prevent access by browsing animals. Coppice stools are difficult to protect without fencing, but stooks of brash built over the cut stool are a cheap and relatively quick option, and if carefully constructed can be effective at keeping deer from browsing the stool regeneration.

Further reading

Gill R (2000) The impact of deer on woodland biodiversity – Information Note. Forestry Commission, Edinburgh.

Harmer R and Gill R (2000) Natural Regeneration in Broadleaved Woodland: Deer Browsing and the Establishment of Advance Regeneration. Forestry Commission Information Note 35. Forestry Commission, Edinburgh.

Hodge S and Pepper H (1998) Prevention of mammal damage to trees in woodland – Forestry Commission Practice Note. Forestry Commission, Edinburgh.

Mayle B (1999) Domestic stock grazing to enhance woodland biodiversity – Information Note. Forestry Commission, Edinburgh.

Mayle B (1999) Managing deer in the countryside – Practice Note. Forestry Commission, Edinburgh.

Mayle B, Pepper H and Ferryman M (2004) Controlling grey squirrel damage to woodland – Practice Note 004. Forestry Commission, Edinburgh.

Pepper H (1992) Forest Fencing. Forestry Commission Bulletin 102, Edinburgh.

Pepper H (1999) Recommendations for Fallow, Roe and Muntjac Deer Fencing: new proposals for temporary and reusable fencing – Practice Note. Forestry Commission, Edinburgh.


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