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Evaluation of shepherding techniques to enhance botanical diversity (New code BD0107) - BD0104

BD0104. Evaluation of shepherding techniques to enhance botanical diversity, with particular reference to the interactions with heather communities.

Concern exists regarding the detrimental effects of selective sheep grazing on semi-natural vegetation within upland Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESA) in Wales. An important area requiring research is shepherding - sheep are selective grazers that can heavily overgraze some plant communities; changes in flock management have led to uncontrolled grazing behaviour rather than the more uniform hill grazing associated with traditional intensive shepherding. This study will aim to quantify the concerns about sheep grazing on semi-natural vegetation, using a combination of survey and experimental work in the Cambrian Mountains ESA. A desk based exercise will be conducted to examine factors affecting observed changes in vegetation in the Cambrian Mountains ESA, and to evaluate the importance of factors influenced by shepherding through a survey of selected farms. Modelling techniques will be utilised to predict the changes which are likely to occur in vegetation over the next 10 years, through utilization of the ESA prescriptions and the existing shepherding practices. Experiments will also be undertaken to monitor sheep grazing behaviour in 4 paddocks grazed to ESA prescription and 4 paddocks grazed to 30% less than ESA prescription; particular attention will be paid to the plant communities and shelter aspects, and to see if a palatable self help block can be used to improve the ranging behaviour of the stock. Observations will also be made to quantify the number of blocks/ha needed to be set out and attempts will be made to quantify any benefits through the monitoring of botanical change and the development of more novel technologies. It is anticipated that study results will enable policy makers to decide whether the influence of ranging behaviour will affect the implementation and development of ESA grazing prescriptions.

Time-Scale and Cost
From: 1994

To: 1995

Cost: £44,000
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Institute of Grassland and Environment Research (IGER), Natural Environment Research Council, ADAS UK Ltd.
Fields of Study
Environmental Stewardship