It’s that time of year again – the end of the scrub bashing season. It has been a pretty intense but productive time of year. The main sections undertaken were the usual suspects – Totternhoe Knolls, Victoria Picnic Garden in Sundon, the 5 knolls (ancient burial mound), the sunken tracks near Whipsnade, roadside quarries at Moleskin and a new section by the wind catcher on Dunstable Downs.
What and how we do it…..
We use brush cutters, chainsaws and a BCS mower to remove ‘scrub’, which is basically anything that’s not a chalk grassland specialist. We then rake it up and burn it on designated burn sites.
Why we do it?
Chalk grassland is an important habitat for many species. Due to its dry low nutrient soil, many species are able to thrive here with little competition from other species. Up to 40 species of flowering plants can be found in one square metre of lowland calcareous grassland. This includes common flowers such as Scabious and Bird’s-Foot-Trefoil alongside many nationally rare plants such as Bee and Frog orchids. This rich wildflower habitat provides a home for many nationally scarce insects, including the Duke of Burgundy butterfly and Glow-Worms, both of which are unable to live on other habitats.
Current estimates suggest that up to 41,000 hectares of lowland calcareous grassland remain in the UK. The extent and quality of the UK’s chalk grassland is declining, mainly as a consequence of changes to land management and use. Traditionally chalk grasslands were managed by sheep grazing; by scrub bashing we essentially play the role of sheep which used to graze all of the downs.
Cutting and removing the scrub ensures the nutrient level in the soil remains low, allowing for the diverse variety of chalk grassland plants to keep on flowering year upon year.
The season runs from the beginning of October till the end of February.
It’s always a good day and we are always looking for more volunteers, so if you fancy joining us, especially over the winter give Austin a call on 07881848551.