Woodland grazing toolbox

Woodland grazing toolbox

6.2.2.1 Woodland grazing and pigs

Pigs and wild boar are omnivorous. Roots and rhizomes are their favoured food but they will eat leaves, berries, nuts and invertebrates.

Their rooting behaviour can be used as a conservation tool in woodland, especially to reduce bracken cover and to provide niches for tree seedling germination. The impact of their rooting can be unpredictable, depending on the breed of pig, stocking density and the size of the woodland enclosure. If stocking levels are low, their rooting action can be beneficial, reducing rank vegetation and encouraging seedling germination. At high stocking levels, their impact can result in a complete removal of ground cover, including tree seedlings and seasonal flora such as bluebell and pignut, and even severe damage to mature trees. 

Because of the potential for long-term damage to the woodland structure, the use of pigs in woodland should be undertaken with caution. There needs to be a clear idea of what they are there to achieve and their impact on the woodland must be carefully monitored.

The following links provide further information on using pigs in woodland conservation: