Wild deer are a part of our biodiversity. They provide pleasure for visitors to the countryside and are a source of healthy meat. But in the absence of predators and due to increased woodland cover, deer have increased to unsustainable densities in some areas.
At moderate to high densities, wild deer can have negative impacts on the natural environment as well as wider impacts on forestry and have negative effects on agriculture. Deer can simplify woodland structure by:
- preferentially browsing seedlings or regrowth of certain palatable tree and plant species
- impacting upon diversity
- impacting resilience of woodlands to factors such as climate change, as heavily impacted woodlands are less able to sequester carbon or intercept water flow, and processes such as natural colonisation can be prevented
Significant effort is required by those responsible for creating and managing woodlands to manage deer across the country. There is a need to develop stronger mechanisms to build increased capacity and focus on reducing current and future impacts, and collaboration is required at a national, landscape and local level to achieve this.