Ten years ago, Arqiva asked the Wildlife Trust to help them to restore a County Wildlife Site (CWS) they were managing that was, in 1990, recognised as a CWS for the species rich grassland that it contained. The grassland had gradually declined in quality since it was recognised and we have worked with them to restore it, reintroducing traditional management by working with a local grazier who grazes his sheep during the summer and organising a hay cut.
We have carried out botanical surveys each year to record how the grassland has changed, and since the project began there have been some really positive changes in the sward:
- A reduction in the dominance of false oat grass. The grassland is composed of a more even mixture of herbs and grasses.
- Bramble encroachment has been prevented by a combination of grazing and/or cutting at the right time of year.
- Grazing has not caused any losses in species that are vulnerable to grazing, such as adder’s tongue fern. This species has doubled its range.
- Noticeable reductions in creeping thistle (an invasive species) to an acceptable level.
- Spread in the number of plants indicative of agriculturally unimproved species rich grasslands, such as: adder’s tongue fern, black knapweed, common bird’s foot trefoil, agrimony, fairy flax, lady’s bedstraw, grass vetchling and common spotted orchid.
- Increase in the number of butterflies on site, with record numbers of marbled white and common blue.
This project is set to continue - so watch this space for more records.