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Thursday, 3 December 2015

Under Beacon, a reserve in transition

by Nick Sherwin.

The last area of woodland was cleared from the Under Beacon reserve in 2013 allowing the planned cattle grazing to be implemented across the reserve. But in early 2015 the plan was interrupted owing to the discovery of TB in cattle within Sussex leading to a lockdown. We were therefore unable to bring cattle into the reserve in the Spring.

When the trustees visited the site in June growth was accordingly higher than had been planned. The flora was however more varied as a result. Calcareous grassland indicators such as horseshoe vetch were interspersed with more typical woodland species such as white bryony, bittersweet and wood sage and indicators of ground disturbance, probably resulting from the woodland clearance itself, such as field forget-me-not and corn mint.

As the grazing regime becomes established the grassland species will become more dominant in accordance with the trust's objectives.

The following floral species were identified in the reserve:
Cat's Ear
Common Nettle
Common Sorrel
Common Spotted-orchid
Common Toadflax
Common Valerian
Common Vetch
Corn Mint
Creeping Buttercup
Deadly Nightshade
Dwarf Gorse
Fairy Flax
Field Forget-me-not
Field Mouse-ear
Greater Knapweed
Hedge Bedstraw
Hemp Agrimony
Hoary Ragwort
Horseshoe Vetch
Lady's Bedstraw
Marsh Thistle
Meadow Buttercup
Ploughman's Spikenard
Red Clover
Ribwort Plantain
Rough Hawkbit
Smooth Tare
Spotted Medick
Traveller's Joy
White Bryony
White Campion
White Clover
White Mullein
Wild Angelica
Wild Parsnip
Wood Sage

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