Upland Management - The Importance Of Cattle
Heather Trust is a charity that works throughout the UK to
promote integrated moorland management. One of the most important
parts of this work is to emphasise the positive link between
grazing and good moorland management. To a very large extent,
grazing animals have shaped our moorland areas and they remain
the ultimate moorland manager. In recent times, sheep have
been the main graziers in many areas and the important role
played by cattle in shaping our moors has been forgotten.
There is no avoiding the fact that management of some of our
moorland areas recently has been less than exemplary. The combination
of bad burning and grazing practices has tended to favour the
moorland grasses rather than heather and other dwarf scrubs.
This has tended to produce a monoculture of coarse, unpalatable
grasses in many areas and there is a move to see this trend
reversed. Forget fancy words like biodiversity, where there
is a variety of vegetation there is better grazing for livestock,
and other mammals and there will be greater numbers of insects
some dwarf shrubs remain, the sensitive use of grazing can
help to achieve this reversal. Cattle have a very important
role to play in this work, as they are able to graze the coarse
grasses in the summer to release the dwarf scrubs. In the summer
months on grassy moors, the standard agri-environment scheme
stocking rates should be forgotten. More often than not, it
is not possible to get enough mouths turned out to control
the summer grass growth. However, for grazing not to be detrimental
to the emerging dwarf shrubs, it is important to reduce the
grazing level, possible removing all grazing, over the winter.
The Heather Trust has a demonstration project that is funded
by DEFRA to set up four moors across England & Wales. One
of these moors is Marsden Moor at the northern end of the Peak
District National Park. The National Trust owns this moor and
The Heather Trust is working on this area to encourage the
regeneration of heather on an area that is dominated currently
by Purple moor-grass. Blue Grey cattle are already grazing
on part of this moor and it is hoped to expand their activities,
in combination with other intervention techniques.
||More information about The Heather Trust
is available at www.heathertrust.co.uk or
by telephoning Simon Thorp 01387 723201.