GRASSLAND GRAZED FOR 1ST 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.