Cattle return to Studland Common after 60 years

studland common land advice

Published Thursday 14 November 2013

Native breed cattle are once again grazing on Studland Common and Meadow in Milford on Sea after an absence of more than 60 years.

Dexter cows Olive and Oscar – a small breed of cattle - will help manage scrub, encourage species-rich grassland, improve the landscape and wildlife of the area and provide more space for walking on the Common.

The cattle will alternate between the Common and the adjoining meadow for short periods of the year in order to bring back more traditional ways of managing the area by cattle owned by a local farmer, which will encourage plants, birds and butterflies.  

The flowers and grasses in the meadow, previously heavily grazed, will now be allowed to bloom and set seed before a hay cut in late summer. This will encourage wildflowers to expand across the meadow and extend the area of the Common for people and wildlife.

The reintroduction of cattle and introduction of a grassland restoration plan for the Common is the culmination of several years of partnership working between the New Forest Land Advice Service, Milford on Sea Parish Council,the Milford Conservation Volunteers and Natural England.

Manager of the New Forest Land Advice Service Julie Stubbs said: ‘We have worked closely with the local community to ensure this scheme fits with the way they use the site, part of which is a Local Nature Reserve and Site of Importance for Nature Conservation.

‘It is crucial to restore and enhance habitats such as the ones found on Studland Common because these types of grassland are becoming very rare across Britain due to development or neglect. In this location it is particularly exciting to enhance wildlife because it acts as a stepping stone between the important habitats of the coast and the New Forest. It also ensures that a valuable green space for the people of Milford on Sea, and the many visitors to the area, has its wildlife protected and nurtured for future generations to enjoy.’

Keith Metcalf, Milford on Sea Parish Clerk, said: ‘We have been working closely with the New Forest Land Advice Service for over three years and they have played a leading role in reintroducing grazing cattle grazing to the Common again after all these years.

‘Our community has shown overwhelming support for this scheme, so I am sure they will now enjoy the benefits of this project whenever they visit the Common.’

Anne Jenks, Milford Conservation Volunteers Chair, added: ‘We are so lucky in Milford to have an area of unimproved grassland which is rich in wild flowers. This type of habitat is one of the most threatened in the UK and we are anxious to increase and improve the area that we have. Grazing by cattle is the most environmentally beneficial way of achieving this because they will help to disperse seeds and improve germination by trampling and manuring the area. We are so pleased to welcome Olive and Oscar to our meadow and Common and we hope they will soon be joined by a friend or two.

‘This is a project which was first proposed to Milford Conservation Volunteers (formerly Milford Environment Group) and the Parish Council by Hugh Corry of the Hampshire Conservation Volunteers about 20 years ago, but the cost of preparation, fencing, water was at that time prohibitive.

‘It is great that with the help of Julie Stubbs and Rhys Morgan of the New Forest Land Advice Service, Natural England and their Higher Level Stewardship scheme and the Parish Council that we have finally achieved our goal.

'Although this is the culmination of this project it is the beginning of another. We are in the process of producing a Biodiversity Action Plan for Milford on Sea and part of this will involve the surveying of Studland Common and Meadow to monitor changes in the wildlife present. This all means we can measure the effect of grazing cattle over the coming years. In fact, it is part of the Higher Level Stewardship Scheme that we will monitor the progress of the project including the recovery of flora on these sites.’

The New Forest Land Advice Service is funded by the New Forest National Park Authority, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, Natural England and the Verderers.

-ends-

Notes to Photo Editor:

(Left to right): Anne Jenks, Milford Conservation Volunteers Chair; Tony Locke, Milford Conservation Volunteers Vice-Chair; Dr Chris Willard, Milford on Sea Parish Council; farmer Sarah Harvey; Sophie Beeton, Milford on Sea Parish Council; Julie Stubbs, Manager of the New Forest Land Advice Service; Keith Metcalf, Milford on Sea Parish Clerk; Hugh Corry, and farmer Richard Harvey at Studland Common, Milford on Sea.

Notes to Editor:

About the New Forest Land Advice Service

The New Forest Land Advice Service is available to landowners and occupiers who would like advice and support on a wide range of issues relating to land management. The advisors operate across the National Park, the Avon Valley and the coastal plain. Since the service started in 2010 it has advised more than 300 businesses.

The service offers:

  • A free and independent service for the land managing community in and around the New Forest and Avon Valley
  • Support for landowners, farmers, New Forest Commoners, equine owners, graziers and community groups
  • Advice to anyone who owns or manages a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC) in the area
  • A small grant scheme which can support capital works which benefit the landscape, biodiversity and cultural heritage of the area.

To find out more about the New Forest Land Advice Service, or arrange a visit, please call 01590 646696 or email enquiries@nfladvice.org.uk.

About the New Forest National Park Authority

Protect - Enjoy - Prosper

The New Forest National Park Authority’s statutory purposes are to:

  • Conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the Park - Protect
  • Promote opportunities for understanding and enjoyment of its special qualities – Enjoy.

We also have a duty to:

  • Seek to foster the social and economic well-being of local communities within the Park – Prosper.

The New Forest National Park was designated in March 2005. Its unique landscape has been shaped over the centuries by grazing ponies, cattle and pigs which roam free. Majestic woodlands, rare heathland and a spectacular coastline provide fabulous opportunities for quiet recreation, enjoyment and discovery.

Visit www.newforestnpa.gov.uk to find out more.

Media Contacts:
Hilary Makin, Communications Manager, New Forest National Park Authority
Tel: 01590 646608
Email: hilary.makin@newforestnpa.gov.uk

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