Making the fencing wildlife friendly

Lindsay Griffiths

It's important for us to think about wildlife in every task we undertake - that includes putting up fencing.

Lorna and the wonderful volunteer conservation team have made a start on the latest project at Brockholes, putting up a new wire fence along the Guild Wheel path to replace the old, rotten fence line.

What are we doing?

This existing fence along the western side of the Guild Wheel separates this public path from the habitats alongside No.1 pit lake.  This fence is constructed from timber posts, livestock mesh and two strands of barbed wire on top.

The current fence posts have rotted and we now need to replace them, in order to be able to graze our longhorn cattle in this area. We’ve detached the wire, taken out the old fence-posts and will now install new posts, then re-attach the wire. 

When we reinstate the wire we will put two strands of barbed wire back along the top of the fence, because this is the only way to stop cattle pushing out and gaining access onto the Guild wheel. However, to make sure that wildlife can cross through the fence line, we are going to install multiple crossing points, suitable for roe deer to jump over and for fox and brown hare to go under.

Deer

Paul Hunt

Why are we doing it?

The rationale for grazing cattle in this area is tied in with our removal of the mono-culture Alder plantation that flanked the lakeside. This Alder plantation was casting heavy shade over the reedbed at the lake edge and suppressing its growth.

Additionally the Alder trees were serving as perches and nesting sites for Carrion crow and Magpie, which were then predating on our ground-nesting wading birds on the nearby No.1 pit island.

We paid for the Alder plantation to be felled because we felt it was a significant threat to the reedbed and the breeding birds, but to stop it just re-establishing as an area of Alder and willow scrub, we now need our longhorn cattle to eat the Alder re-growth and seedlings.

Cow

Helen Earnshaw

Why are we grazing cows there?

Longhorn cattle are great at making habitat mosaics because they not only graze on ground flora but they also browse on trees, and trample and break up the ground in a patchy way. They typically avoid walking through stands of Bramble, so we anticipate that with their help we can establish this land as a mosaic of tussocky grasses, tall herb and Bramble patches instead of trees.

This mosaic habitat is great for nesting warblers and other small birds, plus great for invertebrates and small mammals. In turn, the presence of small mammals such as voles makes tussocky mosaic habitat good for hunting Barn owl and Kestrel.

Have a look for yourself...