Rewilding and meadow management

Information sharing on frequency, timings, hay cutting and more
David Crook
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Rewilding and meadow management

Post by David Crook »

Rewilding, as has been said, is complicated, and really only makes sense on a very large scale. Anything smaller needs to be carefully managed, especially without wild large herbivores and top predators: Knepp, for instance, has to manage grazing pressure very carefully, by culling and/or removal. (Leaving land unmanaged is itself a management decision, and, if on a small scale, usually with very predictable adverse consequence.) There's no simple or single answer - and a lot depends on what you start with, as well as on how you manage - as, for instance, the contrast between the first two and last blocks at Knepp shows. The smaller your scale, the more you need to manage - and one of the key issues is maintaining variety at small scale.

As several suggest, if you have meadows, leaving some areas uncut each year pays large dividends because of the over-winter protection given to invertebrates by thatch - though it's harder to cut after a period without, and there are more decisions to take about bramble, slow and other fast colonisers. You can manage a small area of sloping grassland by cutting half one year and half the next - a 24-month cycle. The dividends in terms of butterfly numbers are obvious, as also the growth of large ant hills, large numbers of slow worms etc. I suspect it would be better to be more random - perhaps cut a random 30% each year, so some areas may go without cutting for several years but that makes decisions about invaders even harder, and the consequences potentially more time-consuming.
Amy
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Re: Rewilding and meadow management

Post by Amy »

https://www.cumbriawildlifetrust.org.uk ... olders.pdf
Gives ideas for cutting regimes to suit different circumstances.

In case anyone has missed it: the Moor Meadows website
has general guidelines for cutting: https://moormeadows.org.uk/information/ ... ers-guide/

and the Moor Meadows website PDFs resources page - has cutting timing advice for lawn meadows on page 18 and for field meadows on page 19 of the Bumblebees of Devon Atlas and Conservation Guide to be found at https://moormeadows.org.uk/information/ ... downloads/
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