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Murlough is cared for as Ireland's first nature reserve since 1967, the fragile 6000 year old sand dune system offers some lovely walks. Due to the reserves wild nature you can discover birds, flowers, butterflies and more, all overlooked by the rounded peaks of the Mourne Mountains to the south.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Regeneration of Burn Site Vegetation

In the Ring Reserve at Murlough NNR there were 4 illegal fires that occurred at the start of summer. The burn sites were then surveyed in order to monitor effects of the fires and the regeneration of the vegetation on the 4 sites.

In order to monitor density and height of different regenerated plant species, a number of fixed quadrats were placed on each of the burn sites. Fixed point photography was another method used to monitor regeneration of plant growth. See below example of fixed point photography at Site A:

Site A: 13th August 2013

Site A: 23rd September 2013

Although plant density and height were monitored the regeneration of vegetation may have been affected by the severity of the burn which was noted before monitoring took place.

A map was then created using a GPS mapping system which marked the location and size of each of the burn sites in the Ring Reserve. The fixed point photography points were also marked on the maps.

The main plant species monitored included bracken, marram grass, carex, rose bay willow herb and burnet rose. These plant species seemed to regenerate rapidly over the summer months with growth slowing at the start of October. The regeneration growth of bracken, burnet rose, marram grass and carex however were affected by the grazing of rabbits.

The data collected in relation to height and density of different plant species will then be visually represented on graphs making the data easily compared and interpreted. The regeneration of burn site vegetation study may come in useful in relation to the long term strategy of Murlough NNR.

This survey has allowed me and other volunteers to get involved and gain experience in vegetation surveying with the help of experienced botanist Professor Matt Dring. This survey is also being used for my university project that I have to complete during my placement year.  

By Rebekah Stevenson

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