iDeer will co-develop a web-based tool that will map the risk of woodland and farmland damage caused by deer.

Funding Amount:


Duration of Project:

2 years

A male deer stands in a forest

Project Summary:

The UK is home to six deer species that can substantially impact the natural systems that we all depend upon. Capable of rapidly colonising newly created woodlands, deer can inhibit growth by browsing young trees, saplings, and seedlings. Consequently, deer present a serious challenge to the government’s ambitious target to increase woodland area to 18% of UK land area and achieve net zero by 2050. It is therefore essential that people involved in woodland management plan for deer impacts.

Whilst managing deer populations and designing planting schemes to mitigate their impacts is more important than ever, managing deer is challenging. They are highly mobile animals that cross man-made boundaries, and their local foraging decisions are driven by the environmental characteristics of the broader landscape. Consequently, local management actions on a single property can elicit effects that cascade across entire landscapes and influence deer impacts on land elsewhere. For example, fencing a woodland might displace deer to neighbouring farmland, or planting trees locally will alter woodland cover and configuration at the landscape scale, influencing deer movement and impacts elsewhere.

However, while considered a ‘pest’ to many landowners, deer are culturally and economically valued by others. In such situations, woodland creation and management decisions that influence deer behaviour and foraging preferences are necessary to ensure successful woodland expansion.

However, landowners may not be aware of these options, their effectiveness, or the scientific evidence behind them. Much remains to be done to translate this knowledge into management practice, in a way that integrates local expertise and multiple stakeholder objectives. Project iDeer has been designed to address this incorporation and implementation gap.

An Integrated Deer Management Platform

iDeer will co-develop a web-based tool that will map the risk of woodland and farmland damage caused by deer. Deer strip bark from trees, especially in the winter months when food is scarce.

The tool will enable landowners, woodland managers, public forestry bodies, conservation practitioners and advisors to design planting and woodland management plans that reduce the risk of damage caused by deer, which impacts the health of woodland.

The iDeer tool will be co-developed and tested with stakeholders in the Elwy Valley in north Wales and the Northern Forest project, which is planting trees across the north of England.

STATUS: Ongoing

Project Lead

Dr Rebecca Spake, University of Reading


University of Reading, University of Southampton, Bangor University, Forest Research, The Woodland Trust, Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, Sylva Foundation, Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, University of Cambridge and University of Leeds