It’s with very great pleasure that I can announce that this winter, after long negociations with our neighbour, BBOWT signed a lease on the area of downland to the south-east of the existing reserve. This agreement will run for 15 years (with a 10-year get-out clause) and will be revenue neutral to BBOWT as it will be paid for by grants that would have gone to the owners.
I am sure visitors to the site will know the dry valley field beyond our slope 4 (where the Pasque Flowers live) but perhaps won’t be aware quite how large it is. The new slope 5 is at least as large as our slopes 3 & 4 added together and so it almost doubles the size of the land under our management! We have already run a few workparties in there to tidy up a Yew that had fallen over the fence and to uncover a nice patch of Primroses (a new species to our site) in the far corner.
This summer we plan to concentrate our effort on species monitoring so that we fully understand what we have in the new slope. In the past we had been invited by the owners to do vegetation surveys so we knew it was very high quality grassland – similar but not identical to slope 4. However, the north-facing aspect and proximity of such a large block of Yew forest creates slightly different habitats.
So, feel free to walk over the new area – you’ll find access via a metal gate in the top corner of slope 4 – but please report back any interesting sightings to me or to BBOWT themselves.