IF you go down to Brede High Woods today you may well come across a surprising new addition.
After years of careful planning and on-site works, the Woodland Trust has introduced five Sussex Cattle to an area of heathland within the wood.
It is the first time cattle have resided on site for 80 years.
This traditional breed from the Weald that have come from a neighbouring farm, are helping the Trust to manage a habitat that is intrinsic to the historical ecology of the area. Site manager Dave Bonsall is delighted by their arrival.
“This is probably the first time in 80 years that this area has had livestock on it. They looked totally at home within a very short time.
“Their grazing will help maintain a habitat that before trees were planted in relatively recent times was rich in heath and grassland wildlife.
“The Trust has already discovered some incredible and rare wildlife at Brede, and the proper maintenance of this locally and nationally important habitat, will not only benefit existing flora and fauna, but may encourage yet more rare species.
“It is hoped that some of the species of flora that appear to have been recently lost will be dormant in the seed bank, or will be able to quickly re-colonise the area from other parts of the woodland.
“This in turn will encourage insects, birds and mammals to thrive as many prefer habitats that are a mixture of trees, woods, rough open grassland or heath.
“Some of the species most likely to benefit include three species of heather, birds such as nightjar and tree pipit and many species of grasshopper and cricket. These will join others such as the slow worm, adder, dwarf gorse and 27 butterfly species, which have already been found flourishing at Brede.”
Brede High Woods has been funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Forestry Commission, Natural England, The Tubney Charitable Trust, Veolia Environmental Trust and many generous local supporters and donors.
To find out more information about Brede High Woods or any of the woods under the Woodland Trust’s care in East Sussex go to VisitWoods.org.uk.