Lowland Meadows are a rare habitat in the UK. They require continual regular management, typically grazing, to maintain their special wildlife interest. The meadow at Bustard Green was on the verge of being lost as a result of scrub encroachment due to the cessation of grazing, and a nationally rare species (sulphur clover) would appear to have become extinct in recent years.
Bustard Green is a rare example of a flower-rich unimproved meadow, and until recently (1995) supported a population of the nationally rare plant sulpher clover (UK Red Data List).
Re-establishing grazing was essential to safeguarding the meadow and hopefully encourage the return of sulphur clover.
The project aimed to restore the UK BAP Lowland meadow and surrounding UK BAP Ancient and/or species-rich hedgerows, through working with the local community (six housholds) to undertake initial capital work, e.g. removal of scrub and purchase of essential grazing equipment such as drinking troughs and temporary fencing, ultimately restoring traditional grazing to the site. A management plan, developed with the local community, would provide ongoing habitat management advice to ensure the Local Wildlife Site is managed sustainably in the future.
The aims of the project outline above has been achieved and exceeded.
The community have worked together to implement the project. They have ownership and continue to manage the project with occasional liaison with professional staff at Essex Wildlife Trust. Over the period of the project some initial residents have moved on but they have been replaced by new residents who are engaged in the project and the project is now self sustaining.
The residents of Bustards Green have acheived:
c.200m of dense encroaching hedge/scrub have been removed.
Livestock equipment and sundries were purchased
Small pond/ditch line cleared of overhanging scrub willow to improve environment for aquatic flora and fauna, particularly to support the Great crested newt population.
Raised profile and 'ownership' of site amongst the residents group and the wider parish community
Increased wildlife/biodiversity benefits
Improved landscape character and views from/into the site
Mark Iley, Biodiversity Coordinator at EWT said: "This is a superb example of what a community can do with support to safeguard and enhance rare and threatened wildlife. We are extremely grateful for the support received from Viridor Credits which has enabled the six households on the green to work together and manage a small sheep grazing project."