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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Wed 24th Nov 2010 - One Horse Field, Totland.

Mark's Photographs.

Carrie's Photographs.

One Horse Field, at Totland is a meadow of around two hectares, including semi-improved and herb-rich grassland with mature hedgerows and scrub, and was the venue for this weeks Green Gym. When the nearby housing development was planned at Hurst View, there was a condition that the field should be kept at an open space. Part of the site is designated as a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation, adjacent to a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and was part of a larger farm which has grazing history back to the eighteenth century. Over the last few days a large section at the southernend of the site has been mowed by machinery, and our task was to rake the cut grass into piles, put it in large bags, and pile the cuttings onto the hibernaculum (the Latin meaning is ‘”tent for winter quarters" and can refer to the location chosen by an animal for hibernation). Taking the grass away will encourage the growth of wildflowers, and the using the cuttings will be good for slow worms and other invertebrates. A supplementary task was to remove a large sycamore and stack the branches onto the pile with the grass cuttings.
Conservation of the area is important as the soil types, changes in agricultural practice and nature succession, have brought about the current habitats found here. If the dynamic process of natural succession is left unchecked, it will allow the grassland to become scrub-dominated and eventually woodland. It is imperative for the grassland to retain its current interest and enhance its potential, management of the site is undertaken to retain the features of interest. This field is particularly important for biodiversity, because of the proximity of semi-improved grassland to wetland. The situation benefits species such as dragonflies, which need meadows for feeding and ponds for breeding. If unchecked, these open habitats would be lost and in addition, the site will act as a buffer to the proposed geological SSSI on the soft cliff to the west of the meadow.
Many thanks to Carrie & Mark for the text and photographs this week.

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