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Looking at environmental support from farming practices
VISITORS to a Dorset nature reserve got the chance to find out how farming practices are supporting the environment.
West Dorset conservation officer Nick Gray, of Dorset Wildlife Trust, led the group around Kingcombe Meadows to explain the connection between farming and biodiversity.
He said: “We are looking to work with, influence and assist farmers and landowners in carrying out wildlife-friendly management.
“That can be anything from wildflower meadow restoration to stewardship schemes for hedgerows to low-impact management of pastures.”
As a working farm, Kingcombe is an ideal place to see wildlife-friendly methods put into practice.”
Nick added: “Livestock is crucial to grassland, and different animals have different impacts, but in general it’s really good for treading the site around and making sure certain aggressive grasses do not take hold.
“At the same time it draws up deeper-rooted herbs, which is good for the livestock and gives the meat a better flavour. This is a nice idea and really shows how everything is inter-connected.”
The aim is to concentrate on ensuring wildlife has summer and winter food as well as nesting places.
He added that he has had a positive response from farmers when spreading the message about wildlife-friendly land management.
“Almost all farmers have their own favourite corners of the farm and they are very interested in wildlife records that we do on rivers, with fish and insect surveys, and that leads into discussions about habitat management.”
He added: “We know farmers are working to very tight margins. Some are fully signed up to the idea and others are looking for more productive grasslands, but still able to look after their hedge habitats, for instance.
“At Kingcombe it is really paying off – the amount of grasshoppers and crickets there at this time of year is just unbelievable.
“The bottom line is diversity of flora promotes diversity of insect life, which is good for the food chain.”
Kingcombe Meadows nature reserve is just outside Toller Porcorum.
For more information visit the website kingcombe.org or call 01300 320684.