27th July 2011

Grazing Proposals for the Stour Valley Local Nature Reserve

Dear Councillors,

I know that some of you are already aware of the proposed grazing for the Stour Valley Local Nature Reserve. I am just getting in touch to let you know that we will be holding an information session about the proposals at Stour Acres in Granby Road, on Thursday 28th July, from 3pm until 8pm. The plans and proposals for the grazing will be on display for anyone to come and look at, and there will be members of staff present throughout the session to answer queries and provide information. It will be a chance for people to find out exactly what is planned, and why, as well as providing people with an opportunity to ask questions, give any comments and raise any concerns. The session will take place on the open space adjacent to the Barn at Stour Acres if the weather is fine. If it rains, the session will take place in the Barn itself.

Gary Clarke, the Grazing Manager for the Dorset Urban Heaths Grazing Partnership, has already carried out three 'survey' sessions at different points along the Stour Valley Local Nature Reserve. During these sessions he spoke to 132 visitors on the reserve. Of these, 120 were 'pleased with and interested in' the proposals; 9 people were 'not concerned either way'; and only 3 people objected to the proposals. The 'drop-in' information session on Thursday 28th July will be the final stage of the consultation process. Decisions on the proposed grazing will be based on the response from this drop-in session at Stour Acres.

If you are not familiar with the details of the proposed grazing scheme, you will find two attached documents which will be of use. One of the documents answers some of the questions that might be asked about the grazing, and the other document is a map showing where the grazing would take place. A third document is also attached, which is a copy of the poster which will be displayed on site from today, letting people know about the information session.

The information session has also been advertised on the Parks main page of the Council website. I am also hoping that there will be information on the Stour Valley Supporters website as well.

If you have any questions about the information session, or about the grazing proposals themselves, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Kind regards,

Richard Hesketh

PR and Volunteers Officer, Bournemouth Parks, Housing Landlord and Parks

Proposed Stour Valley Local Nature Reserve Grazing Map

Stour Valley Local Nature Reserve Grazing Proposals Map Bournemouth

Stour Valley Local Nature Reserve Grazing Proposals

Click on the PDF icon to view the Stour Valley Local Nature Reserve Grazing Proposals.

Grazing Stour Valley Local Nature Reserve - your questions answered

What is proposed?

It is proposed that most of the grassland in Stour Valley Local Nature Reserve will be grazed each summer and autumn with cattle, in order to improve habitat quality.

Why the change?

Currently, all of the grass is cut by machinery each year.

We intend to continue to cut some of the grass for hay but for the remainder, grazing will produce more varied vegetation height and structure. This will benefit a wider range of plants and animals. Also, the hay meadows would be grazed a while after they have been cut in order to control regrowth of coarse grasses and other competitive species. This will produce gaps in the sward where wildflower seedlings can become established.

The vision is to produce wildflower-rich meadows buzzing with insects and bounded by thick hedgerows where farmland birds can nest – habitats sadly now rare due to modern intensive agriculture.

Will the cattle grazing affect the way I can use the area?

There is no reason why grazing should prevent your current enjoyment of the site.

In fact, experience elsewhere in Bournemouth and Poole has shown that the majority of users soon grow to appreciate the extra interest that the animals bring.

Fencing and new hedges will be required to prevent the cattle wandering, but this will not restrict access by pedestrians or horse-riders, since gates will allow free passage along all existing paths and bridleways through the grazed areas. The main footpaths, including that alongside the river, will be entirely excluded from the grazed areas.

A small number of cattle (less than 10) will be on site at any one time. They will be confined to specific compartments, meaning they could easily be avoided if so desired.

For much of the year there will be no cattle present, as they will be grazing other reserves elsewhere.

Will it be safe?

Shetland cows that currently graze other busy sites such as Kinson & Turbary Commons and Canford Heath will be used. These docile cows are fully accustomed to the presence of people, dogs and horses, and have proven to coexist quite happily with these.

Who is paying for it?

Costs of new fencing, gates etc will be met from Natural England funding for nature reserves. Grazing is being reintroduced on heaths and meadows throughout the area in order to improve these special habitats, via the Dorset Urban Heaths Grazing Partnership.

For more information on Conservation Grazing generally, see: www.grazinganimalsproject.org.uk

Who do I contact?

Stuart Clarke 451637

Mark Holloway 451637

Alison Smithies/James Boyland 535140

Brian Heppenstall 420909