What people said
In 2016 and 2017 we engaged with interest groups, user groups, local businesses and communities to discuss how we could bring the open habitats on Cannock Chase Country Park back into favourable condition (an optimal state for wildlife defined by Natural England). This was done through all-day workshops, drop in sessions and web-based surveys.
Key messages were:
- There was overall support / acceptance for mechanical management such as cutting heather, trees and scrub and for controlled burning
- There were concerns over the use of chemical sprays, largely in relation to impacts on pollinating insects. NB the herbicides used on the Chase are not ones associated with high pollinator impacts
- There was 58% support or acceptance for reintroducing grazing at Moors Gorse
- Views were split regarding reintroducing grazing at Brindley Heath, with around half of respondents supporting or accepting and half having concerns about the proposals
- There were strong concerns about reintroducing grazing to the main body of the country park
- Concerns about grazing related to:
- Proximity of livestock to residential areas
- Safety concerns for site users
- Welfare concerns for the animals
- Fencing off the open landscape
- Impacts for recreational use
- Specific access points, e.g. gates suitable for horses
- Impacts on watercourses and sensitive habitats and species
- Queries over costs and benefits
- There were many helpful suggestions about how these concerns could be addressed, including:
- Leaving areas near residential properties un-grazed
- Grazing in compartments so that there are always non-grazed areas people can use
- Ensuring there is an information system so that people know which areas will have livestock and can avoid them if they wish
- Phasing the scheme in / having a pilot scheme to see how it works on Cannock Chase
- Many suggestions about types of gates / access that could be used in particular locations
- Using 'invisible fencing' to minimise impacts on landscape and access
- Suggestions about types of animals that could be used
How have we used this information?
Following the public engagement, we held a workshop with the stakeholder group which included representation from different interests, including recreation, communities, environment, businesses and other site users.
At the workshop we considered all the feedback we had received through the engagegement and developed ideas for how we could manage the site to get the habitats in good condition while also addressing people’s concerns. We heard from other similar sites in the country about what management they undertook and how things had worked for them.
Since the workshop, we have further developed the ideas the stakeholders generated and looked at their feasibility. We have looked further at other similar sites and learnt from their experience, and we have discussed the ideas with fencing contractors, grazing experts and potential graziers to check they are deliverable. We have also worked with our landscape and archaeology specialists to make sure we are not impacting on other special features of the site.