Cut grassland with hedges in background and a road behind

Restoring the quarry grassland

Today was the first task for of the winter habitat management programme for Glorious Grasslands. We went to a new site – a small quarry area next to a busy main road. This site is designated as a Local Wildlife Site and is one of only two areas in the county which has the Purple milk-vetch. This is a very rare and endangered plant which has protection under law.

The site can’t be grazed or machine cut and clearly had not been managed for quite a while. The grass was extremely long, the scrub was encroaching from the road and there were large, ivy covered hawthorns shading out a good deal of the site.

There were quite a few of us so we were able to split across the site and start tackling the restoration.

Area of very long grass in foreground and scrub in the background
Overgrown site at the start of the day

I focussed on brush cutting in the first part of the day. We have a new electric cutter which was very powerful and easily cut through the swathe. It’s much better to use the quieter cutter, especially on a small site like this. There were a team of rakers who did a great job of removing the grass, which reduces the nutrient.

Meanwhile Anna and Lorna did some chainsaw work to start opening up the canopy. The cut branches were dragged across into the ditch and quarry, which will form a great habitat for birds.

The transformation was amazing and we finished early, just after lunch. Even if the purple milk-vetch doesn’t come back straight away, there will still be an important grassland that will develop here, now that light can get in, and the dominant grasses cut back. We’ll possibly return in a couple of years to keep the area under management.

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