New residents have set up home at one of the Forest of Dean’s most important open spaces.
Exmoor ponies and English longhorn cattle have been introduced to Woorgreens Nature Reserve for the first time. They have a job to do while they are here as part of a project to restore important heathland: over the next few months they will graze the site, eating plants that dominate such as brambles, thick grasses and gorse. They will also help to tread down bracken. Over time this 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 10 Exmoor ponies and 6 English longhorn cattle have been brought on to the site by Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, in partnership with the Forestry Commission and with the support of the Heritage Lottery Funded Foresters’ Forest programme.
Kevin Caster, Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust reserves manager for Woorgreens, says, “Woorgreens is an increasingly important place for wildlife and for people. Our staff and volunteers have been working hard for the last decade to enhance and expand the nature reserve. Being able to bring these ponies and cattle on to the site is an important milestone, and means that we can manage far larger pieces of land.”
New fencing has been installed to create a ‘landscape-sized compartment’ spanning 26 hectares where the animals will graze freely.
“As they are walking through Woorgreens visitors will be able to see the grazing animals, and we are keen that people feel that they are part of the nature reserve,” says Kevin.
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.
Find out more about the Foresters' Forest Conservation Grazing project.
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