Bracken is our most widespread large fern species, covering large areas of Scotland’s moors and uplands.

Update on Asulox

Asulox was a selective herbicide, previously used for aerial spraying and ground-based treatment of bracken. The registration allowing Asulox to be used across the EU was withdrawn in 2012, due to concerns that the active ingredients were an endocrine disruptor, risking animal and human health.

Until 2023, an annual Emergency Authorisation (EA) to permit Asulox use was submitted to the Chemicals Regulation Division of the Health & Safety executive (HSE) by the Bracken Control Group. UPL, the manufacturers of Asulox, were required to undertake research to prove that Asulox was safe and effective for bracken treatment to support full regulatory approval in the UK.

In 2023, the HSE’s advice for the UK was not to authorise Asulox due to the risks it posed to human, animal, and environmental health. Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland refused to issue the EA in 2023, based on the HSE advice.

UPL made the decision in October 2023 to cease further research to support full regulatory approval, therefore Asulox is permanently withdrawn from the UK and EU. 

UK Preliminary Best Practice Bracken Management Guidance

With Asulox no longer available to treat bracken, there was a need to update the best practice guidance on bracken management, which was previously heavily weighted towards chemical treatment.

The UK nature conservation bodies, (Natural England, NatureScot, Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA, Northern Ireland), Natural Resources Wales) and the UK national historic advisors, (Historic England, Historic Environment Scotland, Communities Northern Ireland and Cadw) commissioned revised guidance on bracken management.

We have an interest in appropriate management of bracken to protect biodiversity, landscape and the historic environment, in line with our statutory purposes. The revised guidance has been produced to promote best practice in bracken management across the UK and will be updated as further information emerges.

UK Preliminary Best Practice Guidance Bracken Management

Bracken Management Plan Template

To assist with bracken management planning, we have produced a Bracken Management Plan template, to allow land managers to plan bracken treatment over a five-year period and monitor and record regrowth and the condition/diversity of replacement vegetation.
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