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More conservation projects for Pierrepont

by Brian Lavers

The following list of proposed Pierrepont conservation tasks for 2011 results from discussions held at the farm on 11th May between the tenant farmer, Mike Clear; John Terry and Dr Vince Lea from the Countryside Restoration Trust’s headquarters in Barton, Cambridgeshire; and Bill Young and Brian Lavers representing the Pierrepont Farm monitoring group and conservation group (“the Wrinklies”), respectively.

The purpose of the list is to give a little more focus at Pierrepont to the aims of the Trust to “protect and restore Britain’s countryside with wildlife-friendly and sustainable agriculture”. Given the everyday commercial farming pressures this is sometimes a difficult mix, so Mike’s needs will most likely modify our approach to these tasks on occasion.

The proposed tasks are not listed in any order of importance and are grouped under the areas of the farm to which they relate. Other tasks will of course arise which divert us, temporarily we hope, from those listed.

Tankersford Wood and Tankersford Copse

  • extend area of chestnut coppice;
  • continue rhododendron removal;
  • continue to thrash bracken in area of hazel coppice;
  • remove sycamore in area adjacent to hazel coppice.

Wey Wood, etc.

  • continue Himalayan Balsam removal.

Fields & tracks

  • creation of small scrubby areas in field corners or other suitable areas with gorse, bramble, etc. The track running between Pigeon and Middle fields has been suggested as a possible area;
  • creation of a beetle bank/reptile refuge in Priory Paddock;
  • plant hedge along farm track below new dairy buildings and pond.

Buildings

  • install swift boxes in the Tesco Tower. This is currently a Barton proposal and will only involve the conservation group if it is decided to proceed.

Wey Meadow

  • excavate, possibly by hand, a 20 metre length of one of the old water channels. Width and depth of excavation to be advised by Barton. The intention is to attract more bird species to the meadow;
  • mow, by hand (eg.scythe), a trial area of the coarse vegetation in order to improve habitat.

Given the SSSI status of Wey Meadow these two initiatives will only go ahead once the blessing of Natural England has been obtained.