Uncut sloping grassland

Helping out the dukes

A new site today for the Glorious Grasslands project. A piece of land which is a Duke of Burgundy site which can’t be grazed, or cut easily due to it’s steepness. This was a classic habitat management task – cut the grass, remove some shading trees, cut back encroaching scrub.

I also had an additional objective which I want to be more aware of in the future when brush cutting. I watched a very informative talk on yellow meadow ants over the holiday and there is a huge amount of biodiversity that they bring to grasslands. The big ant hills (perhaps 40 years old) are easy to spot and we work around them. But there are far more smaller hills that the untrained eye can’t really see. So we wanted to experiment today with trying to spot them in advance and leave more in the grassland afterward.

It was a tough days work. The weather was amazing and warm when moving. The site was pretty steep so cutting, dragging and raking used up a lot of energy.

However, I was pleased with the result, you can see the untouched ant hills in the picture.

Cut meadow with lots of ant hills
Area after cutting and raking

The other thing different about this site was that we didn’t cut the grass to bare earth (normally we do for an unimproved and ungrazed site). This was because the larvae for the Dukes are living low down by the base of the grass stems and we want to give them as much chance as possible.

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