Cattle help country park moo-ve in right direction

A HERD of Highland cattle is helping a special nature project to protect threatened species at Hastings Country Park moo-ve in the right direction.

The project aims to protect the habitats of birds like Linnets, Yellowhammers, Reed Bunting and Barn Owls and increase the number of bee species in the area.

A State of Nature report by the RSPB state many species were in decline across the UK. But at the country park, a site of Special Scientific Interest, a special management scheme has helped turn the tide.

Hastings Country Park Management Forum and Hastings Borough Council have published a Biodiversity Review of the park reserve. The review is a stock take of the habitats and species of the Reserve and the biological survey efforts undertaken to record the health of the habitats and populations of species. It notes how Warren Glen, an area of maritime heathland, was disappearing under dense bracken.

But grazing by Highland cattle has proved to be hugely successful and the Glen is returning back to acid grassland which provides ideal conditions for heather species to germinate and spread. Farmland management has been carried out especially for farm birds. The creation of over-winter stubble, wild bird cover crops and feeding stations has seen large increases in birds. An additional 31 hectares of flower-rich grassland has been created in recent years. This has proven to be of great benefit to many bee species. Councillor Emily Westley, lead member for leisure and amenities, said: “The success demonstrates that with careful, considered management these very special areas can be improved and more importantly protected.”