Newly published research led by the University of Liverpool and using vegetation data collected at ECN's Moor House-Upper Teesdale site has investigated the dynamics of upland moorland vegetation.
To address research questions concerning the possible impacts of land abandonment on upland plant communities, the team used long-term (1954-2016) vegetation data collected from areas that were either grazed by sheep or left ungrazed within sheep exclosures. Since 1993, ECN has surveyed vegetation at the study sites.
Overall, the results indicate that vegetation richness and abundance on grazed plots are recovering from past management and environmental impacts, albeit slowly. The results support the idea that vascular plants, mosses and liverworts are recovering from historically high levels of pollutant deposition (sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide), which is consistent with some other studies. In contrast, lichen species are not recovering, and in fact, the team found that the overall abundance of lichen species is decreasing.