Thursday, 28 March 2013

Swaling 2013

Following the relatively dry, cold weather recently we have finally been able to carry out controlled burning- or swaling as it is known locally- just in time to avoid birds nesting season. The site, which is managed directly by The Crown Estate, is called Hopcott Common, to the south of Minehead and is one of the country's last refuges for the Heath Fritillary butterfly. This year, through the Exmoor National Park 'moorkeeper' project we, and the other landowners on Wootton Ridge have pro-actively cutting scrub and burning to keep it from encroaching further in order for the food plants of the Heath Frit to be able to grow more easily. As a result the populations of Heath Frits are doing well on Hopcott, but it is an ongoing effort to keep the scrub at bay. Though it may look destructive, Swaling if managed correctly can be a very effective way of controlling scrub, and the desired vegetation, such as heather and bilberry, will soon recover, and even be re-invigorated as a result of the overlying scrub being taken back.

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