The environmental impact of bracken.
Bracken is an opportunistic pioneer which has exploited historical changes in land use and become one of the most successful weeds in the British Isles. It is currently spreading at the rate of 1-4% per annum. The consequence of lost grassland and moorland is a reduction in grouse and sheep productivity and ultimately the sale of land to the alternative land use of afforestation.
In conservation terms bracken carries fewer birds, mammals and insects than the ground it replaces and can introduce parasites harmful to sheep and grouse. The future role of using a biological control to control bracken or the idea of harvesting bracken as a biofuel is summarised.