Wildlife Conservation Group in the

Forest of Dean


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11 Mar 2014

Staunton Meend

Grid Ref SO543123



Staunton Meend is an area of heathland where the bracken and birch are regularly controlled to provide an open aspect and heather is re-growing. We were asked to try and pull the small birch up by the roots - phew! - not much chance of that! Birch is a particularly invasive plant and it's seeds can survuve in the ground for 50 years apparently. All sorts of ways have been tried to stop the birch from re-growing but it looks like a regular cut would be the only deterrent.





At this time of year, the heathland is covered in the dead bracken but that gives us a chance to remove and burn the birch.

















No! - he's not a troll!





Some of the seven Exmoor ponies which have been on the site for a while.

Exmoor ponies are brilliant at conservation grazing. Very hardy -with an ability to thrive in all sorts of habitats from high moorland to bogs. They are selective grazers with great teeth, and whilst they like the sweet young grass, they will also tackle gorse, purple moor grass, soft rush brambles and thistles with gusto; whilst trampling bracken and opening up the sward with their small sharp feet.



































Staunton Meend Restoration Project

The project aims to restore the Meend to an acid grass/heathland by the control of invasive bracken, bramble and birch. Work has been undertaken to allow grazing to recommence as the primary management tool.

Initially approximately 13 hectares of the Meend was excavated by a digger to remove 4-6 inches of bracken brash which had built up after grazing ceased.

The aim was to uncover the mineral bed to allow germination of dormant heather seed.

Over four successive years the bracken was rolled with a bracken basher to weaken its growth.

The perimeter was made secure by the restoration of drystone walls, replacement of fencing and gates and the installation of cattle grids.

Each autumn heather seed has been distributed across the Meend by either planting or broadcasting sprigs. The heather is regenerating both naturally and as a result of seeding.

One new pond has been excavated, others cleared of unwanted plants and one has been extended. Interestingly the clearance task is now managed through ponies browsing.

Exmoor ponies were introduced in April 2012 and have been eating their way across the common removing bramble, creating clearings and damaging the bracken rhizomes.

This year surveys will be undertaken on grass species, invertebrates, birds and flowers.

The project has been supported by volunteers from Staunton village, the Wye Valley AONB, the local Mormon church, Parkend Scouts, The Heart of the Forest School, Lakers School, The Wye Valley Youth Rangers and The Dean Green Team.

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