Your new design will be uploaded in:
Please contact Delivery Team on
0113 3200 750 if you have any queries.

Natural England publications

Natural England publishes a range of relevant publications and information notes.  The following are recommended and can be downloaded in pdf:

The Herbicide Handbook

Bracken (NE Species Information Note SIN011)

Bracken management: ecological, archaeological and landscape issues and priorities (NE Technical Information Note TIN047)

Bracken Management and Control (NE Technical Information Note TIN048)

Chapter 6 Moorland Natural England (2001) Uplands Management Handbook - SC26 -
Info: Pools the expertise of many of the country’s leading wildlife, farming and land management specialists to provide a blueprint for the practical delivery of the land management that will benefit upland wildlife.

Information Note 6 - Managing Bracken (2001) Uplands Management Handbook - Info: Reasons for management / no management, management options, planting native trees in bracken areas


A Guide to Best Practice (2008) Guidance document Nature Scot- Bracken Control -  Bracken control - a guide to best practice (

Alternatives to Chemical Control of Bracken (2023) SAC Farm Advisory Service -

Problem Weeds. Landscape Advice Note (English Heritage) –  Landscape Advice Note: Problem Weeds (

Bracken Control (2023) Forestry Grant Scheme capital items - Scottish Government –

RoundUp Information - Technical Bulletin  - Bayer Crop Science Ltd - for more info on RoundUp

Battling Bracken: Control and alleviation strategies (2022) Farming Connect - Technical Article - Dr David Cutress -

Reducing Pesticide Use in Forestry - Practice Guide. Forestry Commission, Technical Development Branch Technical Note 10/96 - Ian Willoughby et al

Countryside Stewardship Guidance – DEFRA

SB4/ Chemical bracken control - GOV.UK -

SB5/ Mechanical bracken control - GOV.UK -

Research papers

Gil da Costa, R.M., Povey, A., Medeiros-Fonseca, B., Ramwell, C., O'Driscoll, C., Williams, D., Hans Chr B. Hansen, Rasmussen, L.R., Fletcher, M.T., O'Connor, P., Bradshaw, R.H.W.,  Robinson, R., Mason, J. (2024) Sixty years of research on bracken fern (Pteridium spp.) toxins: Environmental exposure, health risks and recommendations for bracken fern control,
Environmental Research, vol. 257 >> Link to article here

Malík, M.; Mika, O.J.; Navrátilová, Z.; Killi, U.K.; Tlustoš, P.; Patočka, J. (2024) Health and Environmental Hazards of the Toxic Pteridium aquilinum (L.) Kuhn (Bracken Fern). Plants13, 18. 

Link to article here

Akpınar, I., Alday, J.G., Cox, E., McAllister, H.A., Le Duc, M.G., Pakeman, R.J., Marrs, R.H. (2023) How long do bracken (Pteridium aquilinum (L.) Kuhn) control treatments maintain effectiveness? Ecological Engineering. Vol.186
Link to publication

Levy-Tacher, S.I., Morón-Ríos, A. (2023) Control of bracken by promoting regeneration of woody vegetation in the Yucatan Peninsula. Trees, Forests and People. Vol 13.
Link to full open access article here

Pakeman, R.J. (2023). A Rapid Evidence Review of the Implications of Not Controlling Bracken with Asulam in Scotland. A report for the Scottish Government. James Hutton Institute. pp22

Link to download here

Alday, J.G., Cox, E.S., Lee, H., Ghorbani, J., Milligan, G., McAllister, H.A., Pakeman, R.J., Le Duc, M.G., Marrs, R.H. (2023) Recovery of upland acid grasslands after Pteridium aquilinum control: Long-term effectiveness of cutting, repeated herbicide and bruising. Journal of Environmental Management. Vol 342.

Grange, I.D., Swallow, K. (2018) Bracken control in the first year is as good as it gets! Aspects of Applied Biology. Vol. 139. PDF link here

Milligan, Gregg & Cox, Emma & Alday, Josu & Santana, Victor & Mcallister, Hugh & Pakeman, Robin & Le, Duc & Marrs, Robert. (2016). The effectiveness of old and new strategies for the long-term control of Pteridium aquilinum , an 8-year test. Weed Research. 56. n/a-n/a. 10.1111/wre.12203.  Click here for article

Grange, Ian. (2013). Bracken pteridium aquilinum control on small conservation sites, Miserden, UK. Conservation Evidence. 10. 16-19. Link here

Dr Richard Birnie has provided three of his papers prepared whilst working at the Macaulay Institute.  These can be accessed from the links below:


Krog, O.M. (2008). A simple method for fighting bracken Pteridium aquilinum. Blyttia. 66. 97-100. Link here

R.H. Marrs, K. Galtress, C. Tong, E.S. Cox, S.J. Blackbird, T.J. Heyes, R.J. Pakeman, M.G. Le Duc. Competing conservation goals, biodiversity or ecosystem services: Element losses and species recruitment in a managed moorland–bracken model system. Journal of Environmental Management, Volume 85, Issue 4, 2007, Pages 1034-1047, ISSN 0301-4797. Click here for article

Stewart, G.B., Tyler, C. & Pullin, A.S. (2005). Effectiveness of current methods for the Control of Bracken (Pteridium aquilinum) Systematic Review No. 3. Centre for Evidence- Based Conservation, University of Birmingham, UK 

Pakeman, Robin & Le, Duc & Marrs, Robert. (2002). A review of current bracken control and associated vegetation strategies in Great Britain. Web Ecology. 3. 6-11. 10.5194/we-3-6-2002. Link here

R.H. Marrs, M.G. Le Duc, R.J. Mitchell, D. Goddard, S. Paterson, R.J. Pakeman. The Ecology of Bracken: Its Role in Succession and Implications for Control. Annals of Botany. Volume 85, Supplement B, 2000, Pages 3-15. ISSN 0305-7364. Link to article

Pakeman, RJ., et al. “Bracken Distribution in Great Britain: Strategies for Its Control and the Sustainable Management of Marginal Land.” Annals of Botany, vol. 85, 2000, pp. 37–46. JSTOR, Article link here

Wilson D, Donaldson LJ, Sepai O. Should we be frightened of bracken? A review of the evidence. J Epidemiol Community Health. 1998 Dec;52(12):812-7. doi: 10.1136/jech.52.12.812. PMID: 10396523; PMCID: PMC1756650. Link here

RJ Pakeman, RH Marrs, DC Howard, CJ Barr, RM Fuller, The bracken problem in Great Britain: Its present extent and future changes. Applied Geography. Volume 16, Issue 1,1996. Pages 65-86, ISSN 0143-6228. Link here

Varvarigos, P., and J. H. Lawton. “Farmers’ Perceptions of the Scale of the Bracken Problem on Farms in Less Favoured Areas in England and Wales.” Journal of Applied Ecology, vol. 28, no. 3, 1991, pp. 988–1003. Link here

Lawton, J.H. 1988. Biological control of bracken in Britain: constraints and opportunities. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. B 318 335–355 Article here

Bracken and the Asulam Ban

Knowledge Scotland has published a briefing by Professor Robin Pakeman that summarises the amount of bracken controlled by the aerial application of asulam in the period 1978 - 2010.  It provides an estimate of what the bracken cover might have been if asulam on this scale had not been applied.  

The estimated 50% reduction in the area of bracken that has been achieved in this period certainly provides some justification for the importance of the work to maintain the availability of asulam.

Articles/ Briefings/ Reports

Future Landscapes Form (FLF) Position statement on the problems and causes in Great Britain and the demise of asulam. (2024)

Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust - Bracken management not control - a sign of the times? (2024)

The Woodland Trust – Members briefing on Bracken -

Søren Thomsen (2023) A Rewilding Answer to the Bracken Question -
Info - Promotion of argument in favour of using cattle and pigs to control bracken through action on bracken rhizomes

Strutt & Parker Client Briefing (2022) Bracken: A new look at an old adversary  

Ptaquiloside & other bracken toxins: A preliminary risk assessment (2010) CT Ramwell, W van Beinum, A Rowbotham, H Parry, SA Parsons, W Luo, G Evans Ptaquiloside & other bracken toxins: A preliminary risk assessment (

Historic England (2020) - Monitoring of Bracken control methods and their impact on the historic environment – Dr David Oatway 

Other Information

The Heritage Journal.  January 2013 - This journal has published an article that comments on the potential damage that bracken rhizomes can inflict on archaeology.


Tick bites and Lyme disease.  See the factsheet and best practice guide for forest users issued by the Royal Forestry Society.  The relevance to bracken is the strong association between bracken litter and high sheep tick densities - the litter provides an ideal habitat for ticks.


LERAP = Local Environment Risk for Pesticides.  Certain pesticides have an aquatic buffer zone requirement when applied by horizontal boom or broadcast air-assisted sprayers. To reduce this aquatic buffer zone, there is a legal obligation to carry out and record a Local Environment Risk Assessment for Pesticides.


Bracken for Butterflies.  Guidance produced by Butterfly Conservation. 

Butterfly Conservation Wales (Leaflet) Bracken for Butterflies

Book - What Works in Conservation (2021) 
Philip A. Martin, Ricardo Rocha, Rebecca K. Smith & William J. Sutherland
info - Ch8, Section 8.8 - Threat: Invasive and other problematic species assessment of the effectiveness of interventions for managing the impacts of bracken in shrublands and heathlands