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The Harnham Water Meadows Framework Management Plan - Contents

12. Grazing and meadow use management

12.1 The Conference acknowledged that traditional grazing has to continue. The matter of timing, animals and grazing density all have to be reviewed. Cattle produce a different sward, but they also are highly damaging to the infrastructure. Hay meadows are also important and do represent a part of the traditional use in the area. A provisional plan for meadow use is presented in ANNEX XI.

12.2 A survey based upon the National Vegetation Classification on behalf of NE (by independent consultants P. Wilson and M. Reed, Sept 2007) found the quality of the grasslands had deteriorated since 1994, with a considerable reduction in area of MG4 grassland and a decline in species-richness. There is also a preponderance of Tufted Hair Grass (Deschampsia cespitosa). This may be linked to an unsuitable grazing regime in recent years. Such short-cropped swards are also inimical to many invertebrates of mesotrophic grassland. Solutions subsequently discussed with Natural England include a switch to light grazing by cattle, or (preferred by the Trust) reduce sheep grazing intensity and close certain areas to grazing during the winter and early spring.

12.3 In the interim, the selective removal of some Tufted Hair Grass should be considered by volunteers including its use as temporary stops during irrigation.

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