Greenham and Crookham Commons Management Plan 2009-2014: HLS agreement: HO2



HO2 - Restoration of heathland from neglected sites

Land parcels managed under this option:

General description of the management required

This option aims to encourage the restoration of lowland heathland on sites whose management has been neglected. Such sites are likely to have become degraded by scrub, bracken, invasive grasses or secondary woodland encroachment. Soil type, management history and location in relation to existing heathland sites will be significant factors in determining suitability. Significant site clearance and weed control may be needed, but it is expected that, following suitable treatment, heathland vegetation will re-establish without the need for seeding from external sources. Restoration of neglected sites will help to restore and strengthen the vegetation mosaics characteristic of lowland heathland, and thus enhance the integrity of the historic landscape character of the area.

This management is intended to benefit the following features:

Management Prescriptions; the dos and don'ts

The following rules apply across the whole area being managed under this option.

  • Follow the detailed objectives in the agreed management plans (see Additional Notes).
  • In accordance with agreed management plans, remove areas of scrub, together with arisings, or burn on metal sheets and remove ash. Control unbrowsed regrowth with approved herbicide or by stump winching but do not carry out stump winching on archaeological features.
  • Restore a balanced range of dwarf shrub age classes by cutting in accordance with agreed management plans.
  • Control bracken according to agreed management plans and using methods appropriate to circumstance, i.e. avoid mechanical control methods on archaeological features and avoid disturbance of ground-nesting birds. Removal of compact litter mats may be necessary.
  • Create bare ground in areas where no bare ground exists and/or where target species will benefit.
  • Provide fire control measures.
  • Graze with cattle and/or ponies suitable for the conditions, to suppress scrub and grasses and establish a structural mosaic in dwarf shrub stands. Adjust stocking density to ensure vegetation does not suppress heather seedlings or plants, avoids stock damage to heather seedlings and allows dwarf shrubs to establish and build. Grazing pressure exerted by wild mammals, e.g. rabbit and deer, needs to be taken into account.
  • Where livestock are not available, control vegetation structure and composition by cutting.
  • After successful establishment, operations involving ploughing, sub-surface cultivation, reseeding, installation of new drainage or modification of existing drainage systems are not permitted unless agreed with your Natural England contact.
  • Do not apply fertilisers, organic manures or waste materials (including sewage sludge).
  • Supplementary feeding should not take place within Greenham and Crookham Commons SSSI and outside the SSSI, should be confined to mineral blocks whenever possible.
  • Control injurious weeds so that their cover is less than 5%. Control method to be agreed with your Natural England contact.
  • Control trees/scrub in accordance with agreed management plans to restore secondary woodland/scrub to heathland.
  • To protect the archaeological/historical features identified in the Farm Environment Plans for all three commons, do not:
  • Indicators of Success

    Additional notes

    Management plans informing the maintenance of heathland under this agreement include:

  • Greenham and Crookham Commons Management Plan – to be agreed in Year 1 and to be in accordance with a.) the Historic Environment Management Plan to be produced in Year 1, and b.) Site of Special Scientific Interest Conservation Objectives.
  • Capital Works Programmes under this agreement.
  • Where the grazing system involves livestock managed and/or owned by others, e.g. commoners’ livestock, there should be regular and timely liaison with livestock managers/owners.

    Since all land under this agreement is Open Access Land, management of recreational pressures will be crucial to achieving the agreement objectives. This is particularly relevant where management is seeking to provide suitable habitat for ground-nesting birds such as Nightjar or wader species.

    Occasional stands of moderately sparse bracken on the edge of the heathland habitat should be retained. This is particularly valuable for Nightjar where there is unsuitable dwarf shrub structure.

    Where grazing is not possible or grazing is not having the desired effect, other means of managing vegetation will be necessary.

    Until management on Greenham and Crookham Commons can be informed by the Historic Environment Management Plan to be produced in Year 1, activities which cause disturbance to the ground or alteration of archaeological/historical features is not permitted.

    Heathland on Greenham and Crookham Commons should be restored to conserve and extend Nightjar, Dartford Warbler and Woodlark territories identified in 2008 (note that provision of bare ground for these species in the heathland should take into account the large resource available in the thinly vegetated gravel areas). Data collected through bird monitoring activities on the commons should be used to inform management.