HLS - MANAGEMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL FEATURES
SPECIFIC OPTIONS, PRESCRIPTIONS AND INDICATORS OF SUCCESS
HO2 - Restoration of heathland from neglected sites
Land parcels managed under this option:
- SU51642866 – Airbase runways, Compartment 16
- SU51643110 – Southeastern heathland, Compartment 5C and 5D
- SU48646785 – Western end of runway, Compartment 1B
- SU52642937 – Crookham Common, Compartment 6A
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:
- Lowland heathland – BAP habitat
- Uncommon birds – Nightjar, Woodlark, Dartford Warbler.
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:
- Place anything likely to cause ground disturbance on or near the features such as fences, feeders, water troughs.
- Locate access routes on or near the features and if the feature is being damaged by the use of a PROW, consult the Highway Authority.
- Allow the development of burrows.
- Allow trees to prevent them being blown down.
Indicators of Success
- By year 5, cover of dwarf shrubs such as Bell Heather, Ling Heather, Cross leaved Heather, Bilberry and Dwarf Gorse should be at least 10%.
- By year 10 cover of dwarf shrubs should be between 25% and 95%, with at
least 2 species frequent.
- By year 5, there should be (for heathland patches over 0.5ha):
- At least 10% cover of pioneer stage.
- At least 10% cover of building stage and/or no more than 20% cover of dead dwarf shrubs.
- By year 5, cover of Common Gorse should be between 2% and 10%.
- By year 5, cover of bracken should be under 5%.
- By year 5, cover of scrub/trees should be under 10%.
- By year 10, cover of bare ground should be between 1% and 10%.
- By year 5, at least 2 desirable wildflower species such as Heath Bedstraw, Bird’s-foot Trefoil, Heath Milkwort, Tormentil, Sheep’s Sorrel, Common Dogviolet should be occasional.
- By year 10, cover of bryophytes and lichens should be at least 10%.
- Archaeological /historic features listed in the HER and FEP and identified in the Greenham Common Historic Management Plan have suffered no further degradation. The depth of soil covering the features has been maintained.
Management plans informing the maintenance of heathland under this agreement
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.