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Our Stronghold for Nature Conservation Grazing

Conservation Grazing


The Forest is one of the most important areas for wildlife in the UK, supporting habitats and species of national and European significance.  Since the reduction of natural grazing animals, the Forest has seen a decline in species such as the small pearl-bordered fritillary butterfly, which was previously found at over 50 sites in the Forest. Sadly, it is now only found on two nature reserves due to the loss of open habitat.

This project aims to conserve and enhance wildlife in the Forest by creating areas of open habitat, especially heathland, and maintaining it through grazing using a variety of livestock.

View our short video about the Highland cattle, filmed May 2020:

What will the project deliver?

The project will create improved heathland habitat which will evolve from the conservation grazing, creating and linking open habitat over a large area in the Dean. The expanded open habitat will sit within a wider mosaic of habitats - scrub, wetland, woodland and copse.

Three nature reserves, currently managed by Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust: Wigpool, Woorgreens and Edgehills are part of this project. These reserves have been selected as they already centre on established heathland, with wildlife that would benefit the most from the introduction of conservation grazing to link existing habitats.

The project will involve fencing about 80 hectares of land in order to create habitats and enhance them through grazing using ponies and cattle. Within the permanent fenced area, temporary fencing will be used to divide the site into compartments to allow grazing levels to be manipulated.

What can I get involved in?

All of our work is reliant on volunteers so if you like heathland, or you like ponies, we’d love to hear from you!

We have a wide range of activity to get involved in from clearing heathland to monitoring and recording wildlife in the area.

Click here to go to the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust website. 

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From creating habitats for our wildlife or improving our waterways, to recording oral histories or finding old photos, there’s always something going on to get involved in!