At first glance, Fauna consists of pasture land of varying quality: until we began our management programme in April 2011, the whole area had been grazed as a single unit, at times quite densely, for many years.
Recently it has been grazed mainly by cattle (most recently by White Park cattle, a traditional breed with relatively low impact), but prior to that, sheep and horses have also been pastured on the land. It has not, however, been intensively farmed, since the previous tenants, the Loxam family, report that they have never used artificial fertilisers, and herbicide use has also been very light. This is reflected in the soil composition (tests show little evidence of chemical input) and also in a good range of native grasses, especially in the Hay Meadow area.
Following a number of surveys conducted for us, and discussions with our own consultant ecologist and advisers from Natural England and the RSPB, we agreed on a management plan which should result, within a few years, in the emergence of a diversified range of habitats within the 16 acres of the site:
- Herb-rich hay meadow (The Hay Meadow and Carr House Meadow; in future possibly also The Paddock)
- ‘Wet’ pasture and rushy areas suitable for wading birds to over-winter (Big Meadow; Upper Sowerholme)
- Water features: Lucy Brook, ponds and scrapes
- Restored and species-diverse hedge