Deer impact on native regeneration after invasive species removal

Deer impact on native regeneration after invasive species removal

Village of Arden Forest Committee

The Arden Woods is a New Castle County-designated Critical Natural Area and has been significantly impacted by the spread of invasive flora species. A recent increase in the local deer population compounds this problem. Deer browse preferentially on native species, giving the invasive species an advantage. Volunteers from the community donate many hours each year to the removal of invasive species.

The specific objectives of this project are

  1. to clear a 5000 ft2 area in Arden Woods of invasive flora and
  2. to demonstrate the impact of deer browse on restoration of native species in cleared areas as evidence to community members of the need to control deer.

The Village of Arden Forest Committee has proposed to clear four areas (1250 ft2 each) of invasive plants and to protect three of these areas from deer browse by fencing, leaving the other area unprotected. One protected area will be enclosed with 8-foot polypropylene fencing and then planted with native species plugs and saplings. Another fenced area will be cleared but unplanted, allowing us to gauge the extent of natural regeneration. A third area will be fenced using fishing line to determine if inexpensive deer exclosures are as effective as standard fencing. The fourth area is a control area which will be marked but accessible to deer to make the deer browse effect obvious.

The selected site is at a public trail head that is heavily invaded by English ivy, burning bush, privet etc. Deer paths in these areas and evidence of deer browse as well as frequent deer sightings by community members aided in the site selection. The work will be done by the Arden Forest Committee and community volunteers as well as a contracted land management company. 

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