CATTLE GRAZE GRASSLAND SITES FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 30 YEARS
This year sees the culmination of a grazing project run by the Cotswolds Conservation Board and Natural England that will encourage wildflower grassland sites in the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) to flourish.
Three important lowland limestone grassland sites in the Painswick area are now being managed so that they can support a range of rare plants, butterflies and other invertebrates.
Grassland sites containing rare species are managed landscapes and can only thrive if scrub is kept at bay through grazing.
The project encourages farmers at Juniper Hill SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest), Cud Hill and Huddinknoll Hill Commons to graze their cattle on the land so that grass and scrubland is kept short enough for rare wild flower species to flourish.
Cattle grids, water supplies and fencing have been installed and Welsh Black cattle from the National Trust Grazing Animals Project are carrying out the first phase of restoration grazing on Juniper Hill. Local farmers have offered to graze all of the sites in the future.
Paul Hackman who is Natural England's Cotswolds representative said:
"After more than 30 years of neglect, Natural England is delighted that livestock are once more grazing Juniper Hill. The Common has become choked with coarse grasses and scrub encroachment but grazing is the key to restoring the grassland and the diverse fauna and flora that rely on it."
Huddinknoll Hill near Painswick is an area of limestone grassland last grazed by the Burcombe family in the 1920's. Now Geoff Burcombe, the latest generation to run the family farm, has agreed to put some of his beef herd to graze on the land once again.
He said: "I remember as a boy seeing butterflies and flowers on Huddinknoll Hill but there are none now. I am pleased to be taking part in the grassland grazing scheme because we want to do our bit and help bring these species back to the Cotswolds."
Members of the public will now be able to enjoy the open nature of the grassland sites and the spectacular views of the Painswick Valley.
Notes to editors:
• This project is the culmination of partnership working between Natural England and the Cotswolds Conservation Board and the local community, with the help Painswick Parish Council, Gloucestershire Highways and the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust.
• The Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is cared for by the Cotswolds Conservation Board - an independent organisation with 40 members, 17 nominated by local authorities, eight by parish councils and 15 appointed by Government.
• The Cotswolds Conservation Board acts as an advisor to planning departments of the17 local authorities within the AONB.
• The Government has designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and National Parks as our finest countryside and they are recognised as being of national importance.
• With its rolling hills and valleys the Cotswolds is the largest of 40 AONBs in England and Wales and is protected to ensure that its beauty and special character are conserved. It covers 2,038 square kilometres (790 square miles), stretching from Warwickshire and Worcestershire in the north, through Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, down to Bath and Wiltshire in the south.
• Natural England is a delivery agency for Defra and has been formed by bringing together English Nature, the landscape, access and recreation elements of the Countryside Agency and the environmental land management functions of the Rural Development Service. The organisation works for people, places and nature to conserve and enhance biodiversity, landscapes and wildlife in rural, urban, coastal and marine areas. Natural England conserves and enhances the natural environment for its intrinsic value, the wellbeing and enjoyment of people, and the economic prosperity it brings. The organisation promotes access and recreation and contributes to the sustainable management of our natural resources. For more information visit www.naturalengland.org.uk
Contact: Claire Cunningham or Jenny Phelps
Tel: 01451 862000
Cotswolds Conservation Board Fosse Way, Northleach, Gloucestershire GL54 3JH
Tel: 01451 862000 Website: www.cotswoldsaonb.org.uk