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School of Geography

Tree zone ecology: Investigate and evaluate the ecological benefits of long grass zones under park trees

Supervisors: Dr Julie Peacock (j.peacock(at) and Dr Karen Bacon

As places of outstanding beauty and cultural significance, historic parks and gardens are important to society today in providing a stimulating and healthy environment for outdoor activities and social wellbeing. Many of the trees integral to these landscapes are of great age and, as independent ecosystems, they are naturally inclined to produce dead wood and shed branches. One of the accepted methods of discouraging access by people to the ground beneath large trees is to adopt a parkland mowing regime that allows long grass to grow under the trees. Rather than merely serving as a compromise these long grass zones may well be beneficial to the tree, such as in reducing soil compaction, protecting roots and supporting a greater range of biological communities beneficial to the tree, which in turn could improve the health and prolong the life of the tree. The exact direction of the research could be driven by the research interests of the student. Information derived from research into the ecological benefits of establishing managed long grass zones under park trees will be fed into tree management policy of the study site: Harewood House.