Pete Hutchings from Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust Talks Grazing Areas
PUBLISHED: 14:35 09 July 2012 | UPDATED: 10:36 21 February 2013
Peter Hutchings from the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust explains the<br/><br/>importance of introducing grazing areas in to the county...
Peter Hutchings from the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust explains theimportance of introducing grazing areas in to the county
A new project led by Hampshire &Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust islooking to develop a dedicatedland management service in and aroundthe River Itchen valley. The Itchen ValleyGrazing Project is working withlandowners by providing advice andassistance with grazing management onland of high, or potentially high,conservation and landscape value in theItchen Valley, Test Valley, and at thegateway to the new South DownsNational Park, as part of the WildlifeTrusts Living Landscapes initiative.
The Wildlife Trust is already runningan exemplar restoration project involvinga similar approach at its Winnall Moorsnature reserve in Winchester. The newproject is building on this success byoffering practical solutions to some of theconstraints that prevent landowners frommanaging sensitive areas such as SSSIs(Sites of Special Scientific Interest) in theriver valleys.
Where landowners need practical help,the project can provide animals andmanage the grazingand otherpractical works such as fencing, scrubclearance, and ditch restoration. Thesmall project team of specialist WildlifeTrust staff are being assisted byenthusiastic volunteers who help with arange of practical tasks includingchecking the livestock.
In some cases the project leases the landand takes on all the management, and inothers the team provides help and advice.Funding to help support the work isobtained through EnvironmentalStewardship agreements with NaturalEngland, where possible, and donationsand grants to the project. In future, theaim is to market the conservationgrazed meat from the livestock usedin the project, to provide additionalincome and to complete the linkfrom field to fork.
Since the project started, theWildlife Trust has taken on themanagement of three additional sites(totalling around 25 ha) and is in activediscussions with landowners on a furtherten sites (about 70 ha), with newenquiries and requests for advice coming in all the time as people hear about theproject. Traditional breed cattle havealso been introduced to a new area offormer grazing marsh at Winnall Moors,which had been abandoned for decades,and to St Catherines Hill, where theyare helping to tackle the rougher grass and scrub left by the existing flock ofShetland sheep.
Already, significant improvements tothe management of the riverside watermeadows at St Cross Hospital have beenmade, where the Wildlife Trust isworking closely with the Trustees toenhance the setting of the historicbuildings and parkland. Grazing withtraditional British White cattle has alsobeen introduced to Berry Meadow andChurchfields Meadow in Twyford,where it is proving popular with thepublic who use the area.
Rue Ekins, Grazing Project Officer atthe Wildlife Trust is keen todemonstrate the potential benefits thatthe project work will bring. Keyelements will be: Improved and sustainable habitat management and anattractive landscape rich in wildlife.
Special wildlife sites are managedappropriately and restored to goodcondition where their habitats andwildlife will be conserved for futuregenerations. Sustainable,environmentally friendly farmingpractices both on sites managed by theWildlife Trust and land owned byothers. As importantly, the project teamwants to increase understanding andappreciation by the public of the role ofgrazing animals and active habitatmanagement in the conservation ofwildlife and the wider countryside. Formore details, please contact the WildlifeTrust on 01489 774400 or see www.hwt.org.uk.