Cattle grazing has been selected as a means of rehabilitating two quarries on the Isle of Wight in England, bringing multiple benefits to a variety of wildlife.
Prospect Quarry and St George’s Down will see one species of cattle each.
The former will host Aberdeen Angus, while the latter will introduce Hereford cross cattle.
The project will be funded by Aggregate Industries and facilitated by Wight Building Materials and the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust.
Sarah Boswell is an ecologist at the Trust and told Agg-Net the plans will benefit both flora and fauna.
“We know from survey work that there is a diverse range of wildlife at both sites, from insect life and reptiles to mammals including badgers, red squirrel and dormice,” Boswell told Agg-Net.
“It will be interesting to monitor these sites as management continues, and hopefully see more benefits for wildlife.
“At Prospect there is the additional aim of using the management plan to eradicate or control non-native plant species such as Japanese knotweed, and to preserve and enhance the geological features at the site.”
St George’s Down is listed as a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation, while Prospect Quarry is a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
Cattle are ideal for the management of vegetation because their tongues pull only the top tufts from the ground, instead of grazing too close to the ground – doing so would see nothing left for small insects and mammals to thrive on.
Animal species such as dormice, grass snakes, slow worms and badgers have been identified as important at both sites.
Steve Burton is the general manager for Wight Building Materials and told Agg-Net rehabilitation is an important step for the company in maintaining strong connections with the land and community.
“As an Island business, we understand just how special our environment is and our aim is to work completely in harmony with our surroundings,” Burton told Agg-Net.
“I think the projects at St George’s and Prospect highlight an advantage land-won aggregates have over those dredged from the seabed. Our work is being done for all to see and subsequently enjoy as an enhanced habitat is created in full view of the public.”