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Local and Topical

Published on October 1st, 2013 | by Steve Budden


Update From the Commons

It has been a month of grass cutting, and for once the weather has been kind. We have managed to get all of our long grass areas cut and cleared with the big collector flail and almost all that is left is the steep bank between Mt Ephraim and the coach park on London Rd..

Whilst the big machine was with us, we attempted to clear some of the grass below Wellington Rocks. This is one of our last and best remaining areas of unimproved grassland on either Common and has not been cut for at least the last twenty years to my definite knowledge.

In that time, the process of succession has been held at bay by our volunteer group who cut out all the invading oak and birch seedlings each year. In spite of this, without grazing the nutrient levels have risen over the years and coarser species of plants have increased in numbers.

Cutting and removing some of the grass this year will help slow this process but unfortunately, we have only been able to cut a small proportion of the area because of all the ant hills within the sward. These are the nests of Yellow Meadow Ants; I am sure you will have noticed them, or quite possibly tripped over one hidden in the grass. They are a good indicator of grassland that has remained undisturbed for a long time and the ants are an important part of the ecosystem.

Heavy machinery would destroy these nests without even noticing them and hand cutting and clearing is far too costly, clearly the only really effective way of managing these areas would be the original way; grazing. Ironically, even if we ever did reinstate grazing on the Commons, this area would be one of the most problematic due to it’s very heavy public use.


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