Conservation, the way it used to be!
The team at Clent has been experimenting with cattle grazing at Walton Hill, as a traditional way of managing and conserving the landscape.
Traditionally, commoners or graziers would have grazed their livestock across the Clent Hills, so the National Trust has worked with a local grazier to reintroduce cattle to Walton Hill. Low intensity grazing, as well as being a traditional method, is widely used as a conservation technique that helps us to maintain the open grassland of the park – a crucial wildlife habitat for a range of invertebrates including butterflies and crickets.
Lowland acid grassland heath is becoming an increasingly rare habitat nationally and we wish to look after this precious space for the benefit of both people and wildlife. As always with the use of livestock on accessible land we want to provide a balance between the needs of managing the site to maintain its wonderful habitat and landscape value, and those of the thousands of visitors who come to enjoy this special place.
We have installed an invisible fence, which is buried under ground and responds to special collars worn by the cattle. The fence gives them a low level shock as they get close to it: the cattle are all trained in using the system for many weeks before they come on-site. The system has been really effective and it provides a safe barrier without destroying the views or access rights.
Last year the cattle grazed on the hill for several months which, alongside modern machinery, made a huge contribution to improving the habitat on the Hills. It is only a limited number of cattle for a limited period of time, but it will allow us to see the impact of the project and its potential for the future.
Dogs sometimes make cattle nervous, so please keep your dog on a lead if you see cattle in the area. If you are concerned for your safety, the best approach for you and your dog, is to drop the lead and walk away.