One man went to mow….

Earlier this week (8th August), contractors were on the Commons cutting and baling areas of grassland.  A few people came in to the Ranger's Office to ask why this happens, given we are a natural open space, and we spend the spring and summer trying to get the grass to grow!  


The Plain, or Meadow as some know it, is one of our really important habitats.  It is an increasingly rare type of acid-grassland that typically occurs on nutrient poor, free draining soils with a low pH., and it is one of the reasons the site has a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) designation.  

Historically, the area would have been naturally managed by grazing animals who would have kept the grass short.  That unfortunately isn’t possible here on the Commons, so we have to mimic that process by mowing the grass.  Leaving the grass would result in "composting" and any nutrients would leach back into the soil and increase that all important low pH.  Hence why the cut grass is baled and removed.


Cutting and removing the grass is not a new thing here on the Commons, back in the 50s the grass was cut and dried and used to feed our own horses.  Unfortunately, this had to stop as local youths kept setting fire to the drying hay. 

In 2014, we started to leave 1 hectare of the grassland uncut and this has proved invaluable in improving the vegetative structure of The Plain.   It also provides an important refuge for a variety of wildlife throughout the year, particularly:

  • nesting areas for ground-nesting birds during the spring and summer;
  • a food source during the autumn period for a host of migratory birds;
  • in the winter it is not uncommon to flush species such as Woodcock (Scolopax rusticola) and Snipe (Gallinago gallinago).