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Author Topic: Woodland Scrub Clearance on former Chalk Grassland
Ken Hume
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Posts: 430
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Post Woodland Scrub Clearance on former Chalk Grassland
on: July 10, 2013, 10:36
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The Chilterns Conservation board Chalk Grassland Restoration event held on 09th July 2013 at various sites in the Chilterns was a resounding sucess with very good attendance.

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The event focussed on the difficulty of maintainance and reversion of chalk grassland sites from the the incursion of woodland shrub species that will eventually colonise and transform these sites into woodland.

Yeosden Wood & Bank

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This site is winter grazed by cattle but hawthorn is beginning to become established on the bank

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The bank contains many wild flowers including common spotted orchid and rockrose.

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There is also some examples of the much rarer bee orchid.

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Andridge Common

Kath Daly of the Chilterns Conservation Board explained to the group about work done to cut back trees in order to encourage Andridge Common to revert back to chalk grassland. It is early days to assess the sucess or otherwise of this chalk grassland conservation process and it is recognised that the sucess of same will be very much dependant on ongoing maintainance of the grassland for years to come.

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Rivernoak Farm

This site has received similar treatment to Andridge Common but is further along in the process and fairing better probably due in part to active grazing by horses. The practice by horses of using regular dunging areas to prevent grazing areas from becoming fouled is contributing towards the creation of an uneven grass structure. Removing horse dung might help to keep the whole grass area short but this would be a very labour intensive process. Instead encouraging the growth of Yellow Rattle as part of the grass mix would probably be more effective at keeping the grass short since this is semi parasitic and hence naturally reduces grass growth vigour.

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Lodge Hill (SSSI)

The removal of woodland scrub ( mainly dogwood ) from this site has proved to be very sucessful in helping to preserve and restore the chalk grassland on Lodge Hill which is an English Nature Site of Special Scientific Interest.

One of the major features of this site is the presence of ant hills that are in different stages of development. These ant hills support various colonies of insects (inc. underground aphids), plant and bird (green woodpecker) species.

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The group received a fascinating and informative discourse on the ecology of ant hills and how this forms an intrinsic part of mature chalk grassland followed by another discussion on a programme of (re)introduction of Junniper bushes onto the chalk grassland.

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Martyn Lane (BBOWT) and Mark Knop (land owner) explained how good use was made of an Alpine tractor to speed up removal of scrub woodland from this site. BBOWT would like to make greater use of their alpine tractor to help achieve better outcomes on nature conservation projects across the Chilterns region.

Ken Hume
Executive Trustee - Oxfordshire Woodland Group

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