A British Ecological Society Special Interest Group
More on the importance of wood pastures, as Suzanne Perry of Natural England reports on a recent meeting in the Lake District…
BES FEG event held on Tuesday 15th September 2015
The event venue, Rydal Hall near Ambleside, was originally owned by the Le Fleming family, and can be traced back to 1126. Part of the sites is formally designated parkland, but this does not include the outstanding High Park wood-pasture behind Rydal Hall which was the main focus of the visit. This event was attended by 50 people from the forest industry, local graziers, statutory agencies and academics. Kate Holl from SNH gave an introductory presentation which set the scene and posed questions for discussion about the role of wood pasture in the uplands, and the challenges of establishing and managing this habitat.
The majority of the day was spent in the field in glorious autumn sunshine. Extensive tree planting has been carried out across the estate, with the aim of creating new woodland and wood-pasture running up the valley. When established, the trees and shrubs will provide valuable pollen and nectar sources currently lacking. The ecological effects of the tree planting are is being monitored to measure their impact.
In the afternoon, the participants discussed the Challenges and Issues for upland wood pastures in a workshop – including choice of livestock, presence of deer, whether to plant or encourage natural regeneration and the limitation of current policy and grant schemes in achieving these aims. Frans Vera enjoyed the opportunity to dispel some of the myths that have arisen since his Grazing Ecology and Forest History theory was published. This was a very successful and interesting day, enjoyed by those who attended and will hopefully be the first of a series. If you are interested in finding out more, please contact Suzanne Perry.
If you’re interested in wood pastures, don’t forget the upcoming BES FEG meeting in Brussels