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Cattle help maintain rare habitat in Kielder Water & Forest Park

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Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary

Eco-warriors are being given something to chew on in a bid to improve wildlife habitats in Kielder Water & Forest Park.

The Forestry Commission has recruited a small number of Simmental cattle for the first time, owned by local farmer Ray Nichol, to graze a precious mosaic of grassland and woodland in the 62,000 hectare Northumberland beauty-spot.

Forest chiefs want to see if the animals can help encourage a more diverse eco-system in this unique area of Kielder Forest by feeding, tramping and dropping dung on the 9.5 hectare site at Plashetts, part of which is ancient semi-natural woodland. 

Grazing livestock in hunting forests, parks and chases, known collectively as wood pasture, was once widespread and scenes depicting this habitat remain a romantic image of the English rural landscape.

Tom Dearnley, Forestry Commission Ecologist, explained:

“Wood pasture is a rare habitat in Northumberland and this is a really great opportunity to see how livestock influence native woodland eco-systems. Among species which could benefit are plants such as orchids and insects that live in sheltered grassland glades like the small-pearl bordered fritillary butterfly.”

Kielder contains eight ancient woodland sites in addition to producing 25% of all English grown timber.


Note to Editor

  1. The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible in England for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woods and forests and increasing their value to society and the environment. Forestry makes a real contribution to sustainable development, providing social and environmental benefits arising from planting and managing attractive, as well as productive, woodlands.  For more information go to

  2. Media calls to Richard Darn on 0775 367 0038.