What's wrong with scrub?
If left unchecked, the scrub would soon take over and turn flower-rich grasslands, through scrubby patches of thorn, bramble, currant, rose and young trees, into woodland – a natural process known as succession.
Succession results in an ultimate, stable suite of species, best suited to a particular site and its geology, topography and geographical location. This ‘community’ of species is called the climax community.
What do we do?
The aim of our scrub-clearing work is not to remove the scrub entirely, more to check the advance so that it doesn’t dominate.
In effect, we’re trying to maintain a specific point in successional change and that point is somewhere between a man-made habitat and the climax community.
Whilst it may seem at odds to work against nature, what we refer to as ‘man-made’ is still thousands of years old and many species have come to depend on this habitat type.
We aim to protect or, in some cases, hope to welcome back species such as rock rose, harebell, thyme, cowslip and early purple orchid.
Some of these species are confined to the relatively few islands of unimproved grassland that remain.
Lightening the load
We’ve recently had help from a working holiday group clearing large areas of choking bramble and entangled clumps of hawthorn, gorse and rose with their armoury of unforgiving spikes and thorns.
On sites such as these there really is no substitute for attacking the job en masse with groups of willing volunteers; the results are testament to this.