Woodland regeneration in the New Forest, Hampshire, since 1650.
From general observations it is postulated that the unenclosed woodlands of the New Forest consist of three generations. It was possible to determine the absolute ages of these from growth-ring counts across the bases of 141 trees. The oldest generation (A) is now 200-315 years old. The distinction between the younger generations is not clear in some sites, but regeneration was vigourous between 1858 and 1915 (B) and again during the Second World War (C). Present-day evidence shows that it is possible, given a sufficiently large population, for deer, ponies and cattle to prevent regeneration, so an estimate of the browsing pressure exerted by these herbivores since the 17th century was made from census figures contained in historical records. This showed that, during those periods for which there is sufficient information, regeneration has occurred only when the browsing pressure was below a certain value (between 0.28 and 0.37 feeding units per acre). The exceptions to this relationship suggest that the incidence of fire, and the formation of closed canopies in developing stands, have also determined the extent and nature of regeneration. The implication for the future management of the New Forest is that, if browsing pressure continues to rise at the present rate, successful regeneration in the unenclosed woods will become impossible in the next few years. From authors' summary. KEYWORDS: Cattle \ Deer browsing damage \ Regeneration \ natural regeneration \ natural regeneration \ effects \ browsing \ natural regeneration \ effects \ fire \ natural regeneration \ effects \ grazing \ Silviculture