FOI request (FOI217043)
Sheep and Cattle
Requested Thu 29 June 2017
Responded Thu 29 June 2017
This is a request under the Environmental Information Regulations.
Sheep and cattle are currently being grazed on Hastings Country Park HLS Areas GP01 (Barn Pond Field) and EG06 (Ecclesbourne Meadow). Both are designated Priority Habitat Inventory.
The Hastings Country Park Biodiversity Review 2013 stated that the favoured location for skylarks (Alauda arvensis) to nest is still within the Ecclesbourne Meadow/GP01 area.
Skylarks are ground-nesting birds and will breed from April to early August. Spring temperatures trigger the start of the breeding season, so they will be currently breeding on the Ecclesbourne Meadow/GP01 area.
The Natura 2000 Management Plan for the Skylark identified it as a bird species that has an Unfavourable Conservation Status within Europe and that the major pattern in Skylark population trends across Europe is that of severely declining or depleted population. The Skylark is on the UK Red List.
The British Trust for Ornithology report that vegetation changes are brought about by three processes: consumption of foliage, trampling and deposition of urine and dung. Floristic changes have received the greatest attention but alterations to vegetation structure are potentially at least as significant for bird populations. And, trampling by livestock can result in losses of nests in ground-nesting birds.
1 - Please provide a copy of the decision and reasoning that determined that the grazing of sheep and cattle was to take place on the GP01 Grazing Block A area during the Skylark breeding season.
2 - The previous 2010 - 2015 Grazing Plan showed no grazing on odd numbered years. Please provide a copy of the Grazing Plan for 2016, 2017 and onward.
3 - Please provide a copy of the the decision and reasoning to permit sheep and cattle to graze on EG06 Ecclesbourne Meadow at any time given that this is an area that is required to be free of trampling..
4 -Please provide a copy of the decision and reasoning not to fence off GP01 from EG06.
Q1 - Sheep have not been grazed on GP01 since the 7th of March. A lower stocking density of Cattle have been grazing since the 23rd of May. Grazing has taken place to reduce the vigour of the bramble, as part of the management objectives to continue to reduce the quantity of this problem species. The 2013 Biodiversity Review notes that continued control of the bramble invasion is required to improve skylark breeding habitat. The amount of bramble is reducing but is not yet at acceptable levels. Additional habitat has been provided through neighbouring fields which are in hay management and spring sown cereals.
Q2 - The grazing/management is adjusted according to the field conditions in any year. An updated grazing plan is scheduled to be published during winter 2017/8.
Q3 - EG06 is under HLS management to restore species rich grassland, grazing with sheep and cattle is a requirement of this management and necessary for the restoration process.
Q4 - EG06 and GP01 are separately fenced
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