A rough guide to conservation work on the Edge
Our conservation work on Wenlock Edge happens all year round.
We have a fantastic team of staff and volunteers working to enhance the special woodland and grassland habitats of Wenlock Edge and to monitor the wildlife here.
The woodland is actively managed and has been for many centuries, albeit in different ways and with different aims. An actively and sensitively managed woodland is a healthy and vibrant woodland that can provide benefits for nature, wildlife, people and the local economy.
Much of Wenlock Edge is ancient woodland and we're working to increase the number of native species in the mix. In autumn and winter, we spend a lot of time thinning and coppicing to produce biofuel, improve structure and enhance wildlife habitat.
Fragments of rare limestone grassland still exist on the shallow dip slope of the Edge: 98% of this habitat has been lost in the UK since the end of the Second World War. In summer, we mow the flower-rich meadows and make hay, while our flock of Hebridean sheep works hard grazing all year round! This removes nutrients from the soil, discouraging vigorous grasses and coarse vegetation, and enables lime-loving specialist plants to thrive (including pyramidal orchid, eyebright and viper’s bugloss).
Wenlock Edge is a refuge for a range of plant and animal rarities. The hazel coppice supports Shropshire’s largest population of hazel dormice, a nationally endangered species, and locally scarce butterfly orchids and violet helleborine dot the woodland floor.
Pied flycatchers nest on the woodland edges and a variety of butterflies shelter in our old quarries on sunny days. We undertake a range of monitoring projects including nest boxes, distribution mapping and condition surveys to help inform our habitat management.