Following the successful cattle grazing trial last autumn, Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust is now grazing Highland cattle permanently in the Forest of Dean.
To do this Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust have bought six young Highland cattle and welcomed them this week to Woorgreens Nature Reserve, a conservation grazing area within the Forest of Dean. This is believed to be a Forest of Dean ‘first’.
The cattle have a job to do while they are here as part of an ongoing project to restore, create and maintain important heathland.
Kevin Caster, Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust’s Reserve Manager said:
“Woorgreens is an increasingly important place for wildlife and for people. It has grown since 1981, when it was just a lake, to become a large lowland heath area. Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust staff and volunteers have been working hard for the last decade to enhance and expand the nature reserve. With volunteer support and with help from the grazing animals we will be better able to manage the reserve for wildlife. The Highland cattle will eat many of the plants that can dominate the area such as brambles, coarse grasses and gorse. They will also help to tread down bracken.
Grazing animals are a much more sustainable and natural way to manage a nature reserve. Conservation grazing creates variety in a natural way and developing larger spaces like this not only means we protect current wildlife but we can also attract lost species, such as the Dartford warbler, seen here this spring. Over time the random nature of the grazing will help a wider range of wild flowers and other plants to thrive, and new spaces will be created where birds, reptiles and insects can nest and find food.”
The six Highland cattle have been brought on to the site by Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, in partnership with Forestry England and with the support of the National Lottery Heritage Fund Foresters’ Forest programme. Allowing the cattle to settle in first, Foresters’ Forest plan to hold a ‘Walk and Talk’ evening at the reserve in the next few weeks, to enable local residents to meet the cattle and to find out more about the conservation grazing from the project experts.
Woorgreens Nature Reserve is open seven days a week and is free to visit. The nature reserve is located on the B4226 between Cinderford and Coleford, east of Cannop, near to the Speech House.
This project has also been made possible with funding and support from Natural England, the Countryside Stewardship scheme and Grundon Waste Management. This work supports other conservation projects at Woorgreens being carried out by the RSPB, Butterfly Conservation, Natural England and the Amphibian and Reptile Group.