Postcard: The bracken team in the Peak District


Professor Rob Marrs and the bracken team from the University of Liverpool’s School of Environmental Sciences

“Here the team, made up of Kirsten Booth, an MSc assessing how soil chemistry has changed; Dr Victor Santana who leads the vegetation survey and two student interns, Wagner Chiba from Sao Carlos, Brazil and Pierre Denelle from Paris, are standing in surrounds of our long-term experiment in the Peak District.

“This particular experiment is designed to do two things.

“First, to develop techniques for the  successful control of this very pernicious weed species. Bracken is very difficult to control because it has, amongst other attributes, a very large underground store of food reserves.

“Second, there is no point in controlling a weed species unless you put something worthwhile back. Here we aimed to restore heathland or acidic grassland vegetation.

“In our treated plots we have been very successful, but it has taken a fairly long time to achieve our objectives. The experiment is in its twentieth year and is visible from space, well Google earth anyway.

PostBracken-2wA hemispherical skyshot taken from under the bracken canopy

“As Project Leader, I attempted to take, for the first time, a hemispherical sky-shot to determine how much sunlight gets to the plants growing underneath the canopy. As suspected – not a lot, but at least we can start measuring it.

“The flashlights in the photo are the north – south markers, the more pointy one is magnetic north.”


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