We manage Cannock Chase Country Park which is a beautiful area of heathland and wood pasture in the south of the county.
Over the last few years we have been discussing and developing management proposals for the country park, discussing different options. This included types of management that have been used for many years on the Chase, such as cutting and controlled burning of heather, cutting and spot treating trees and scrub, and cutting and spraying bracken. The options also included reintroducing grazing with livestock, which was the traditional way the Chase was managed before the Great War.
The purpose of these discussions was to inform how the site should be managed over the next 10 years, from 2019 under a new countryside stewardship scheme. The scheme must move the habitats on the Chase into 'favourable condition' for wildlife, which is a legal requirement reflecting the national and international significance of the site.
What did people say?
Feedback from the public engagement last year and discussions with interest groups told us that most people were comfortable with mechanical management (cutting and bruising) and controlled burning of the vegetation. There were some concerns about the use of herbicides, often due to concerns about potential impacts on pollinating insects.
In relation to grazing with livestock, there was overall acceptance of grazing at Moors Gorse, a more split response for Brindley Heath and strong concerns about grazing the main body of the country park. These concerns related to proximity of livestock to residential areas, safety concerns, impacts of fencing on landscape and recreation and queries over costs and benefits. There were also many helpful suggestions about how these concerns could be addressed.
Find out more about the engagement and what people said.
What is being proposed?
Having carefully considered the feedback and suggestions people made, we have amended the proposals to address people’s concerns while still meeting our legal requirements, balancing the needs of wildlife, heritage and people’s enjoyment of the site.
Our proposals are:
- to use all available management techniques in combination - cutting, controlled burning, spraying and livestock grazing - we will need all available tools if we are to bring the site into favourable condition for wildlife
- to reintroduce livestock grazing very gradually over a number of years, starting with a small pilot scheme at Moors Gorse
- to develop further grazing proposals over the coming years. They would be subject to formal consultation and approval processes
- Based on the suggestions received through the engagement process, any grazing scheme on the main body of the country park would include leaving un-grazed areas, using invisible fencing where possible and making sure people know which areas are being grazed at any time.
You can find out more information on the proposals, and about why grazing is needed to help manage the site.