Recent studies have shown that the ground flora is being heavily affected b
y increased levels of grazing within British broadleaved woodland, particul
arly as a consequence of rising deer populations. General trends observed i
nclude a reduction in Rubus fruticosus and other tall-growing herbs and fer
ns (other than bracken, Pteridium aquilinum) and increases in grasses and l
ower-growing species. Grazing of the flowers is common for some species and
may be as significant in terms of long-term survival of the species as los
s of leaf material. Most vegetation types contain some species that may be
sensitive to grazing: their abundance will therefore be very dependent on t
he grazing history of the stand. This can affect how the wood is classified
under the National Vegetation Classification. Grazing impacts must be reco
gnized by forest managers, but are not necessarily damaging in themselves.
A variable and varying level of grazing within a wood is likely to bring mo
st benefits for biodiversity.