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The Harnham Water Meadows Framework Management Plan - Contents

18. Conclusions and recommendations

18.1 Community support for the Trust is strong and relates to the availability, training and recruitment of volunteers. Opening Rose Cottage as the education and visitor centre has been achieved since 2006 and has proven successful.

18.2 Publications are kept under review and relate to interpretation and access as much as learning and research-based activity.

18.3 Planning for meadow use, interpretation and management should look forward, acknowledging both historic importance and habitats. The needs of sward diversity (by manipulating the grazing regime) and bird habitats are paramount.

18.4 Presenting the Harnham Water Meadows as a ‘working farm’ is crucial. Although open access is not feasible, HWMT should keep access under review.

18.5 Floating must be promoted for its beneficial impacts on the river system.

18.6 Drowning opportunities remain under review and are a matter of discussion with Natural England and the Environment Agency and their consulting engineers. Drowning depends upon condition, conservation management, visual access and river level. There is a ‘cap’ of 20% (from Natural England) on the area drowned for logistic purposes. The restriction, however, allows for diversity of management.

18.7 A wide range of meadow use is highly desirable: Water meadow, flood meadow, hay meadow and a range of aquatic/semi-aquatic habitats is desirable. Micromanagement is particularly desirable in this context, especially important around ‘hotspots’ for management attention. HWMT must keep this under review.

18.8 The intensity of grazing and its ad hoc nature has been noted by Natural England with serious concern. HWMT is legally responsible for the SSSI area.

18.9 There is a list of tasks identified for progressive restoration and future funding should be directed to these and to control structures, as appropriate.

18.10 Aside from issues of water control, attention should also be turned to restoring certain historic boundaries prioritised on ground evidence.

18.11 There is also a will to extend the historic boundary restoration to produce wildlife corridors across the meadows.

18.12 Management for specific species is a matter of ‘good practice’ in relation to both published guidelines and the agencies. Inventory surveys are needed, as is a log of hydrological management. Particular attention should be paid to archaeology and to plants and animals, including regular surveys to monitor vegetation change.

18.13 This Framework Management Plan informed a Farm Environment Plan to secure HLS funding, and this contains further detailed information.

18.14 All this will take time; there is a need to be patient, but not too patient.

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