The plan is to restore a little of the grassland that there used to be before all the bottle-digging in the 80’s and 90’s. We selected this particular area as it is already very open, but the large majority of the rest of the site will be left as it is – the nettles and thistles have their own wildlife value and protect deer & other animals from disturbance in the summer months. However some more varied vegetation would benefit many different types of wildlife, and consultations last autumn and in previous years show a high level of support for some grassland restoration.
The area mown is where there was virtually nothing except nettle and thistle, leaving the patches with more varied vegetation. We are trying out some different approaches – part of it will be re-sown in early September with a wild grass/herb/flower mixture appropriate for Oxfordshire, and part will be left to regenerate itself. We will need to mow regularly until the end of next summer to make sure the nettles and thistles don’t come straight back, so it will be short, but this will be temporary. After that we can mow less often and create a patchwork of different lengths of grass to maximise the wildlife benefit. It would be nice if it helped to increase the area of rabbit-grazed turf which is good for small plants.