Old Down‎ > ‎

Grasslands

Background
 
A priority for management has been the grassland which covers around half of Old Down. In the last 70 years, nationally, 
some 98% of our diverse rich grasslands have been destroyed by development and industrial farming
and that continues. There is little protection for what remains and yet along with our woodlands, and other primary
habitats, grasslands are the basis for the food chain that underpins our wildlife. You can see some examples of old
wildflower rich grasslands as well as some of the remaining wildflowers around Basingstoke by viewing the slide presentation below.

 

When you click on the link Google will offer you the opportunity to view the file in a Google document

format online. This is not as good as downloading the presentation in .pdf format which you can do

as follows: Click “File” under “Google docs” and select “Download original”. 
 
 
Grasslands can be managed in many different ways and not all are as rich in colour as in the presentation but
they all still support a rich diversity of flora and fauna and are very different from the monocultures of arable fields
and grasslands that typify our farms. We need to remember too, that our public open spaces (and our gardens)which
now occupy significant areas of land can be just as unfriendly for the native plants that our wildlife evolved with and needs.
 
We have also assembled a collection of photos of Old Down taken through the seasons on different parts of the down.
 
 
Our Approach
 
For this wildlife group the approach to grasslands has been to;
  • Introduce annual cut and collect of end of season grass to remove thatched grass and allow
  • seeds of tender wildflowers a better chance to survive.
  • Reduce dominant weed species that have become established due to low diversity,
    past agricultural usage and an absence of suitable natural or human management.
  • Reseed some areas to increase the range of wildflowers. With greater flora diversity suited to the soils etc
  • we can attract species lost to the area and more of the ones we already have
  •  
You can view a slide presentation on the background to our grassland restoration since 2008.
When you click on the link Google will offer you the opportunity to view the file in a Google document

format online. This is not as good as downloading the presentation in .pdf format which you can do

as follows: Click “File” under “Google docs” and select “Download original”.

  

Wildflower Trials on Old Down

 
 
Annual Management

This photograph was taken in August 2008 from Old Down Hall looking south west beside the A30.  The area is crowded out by years of uncut dead grass. Ragwort, docks and some other tough species have taken hold. Since 2008 annual mowing and clearing of the grass together with pulling of dominant species such as Ragwort have changed this scene. Grasses are shorter and less dominant and wildflowers are slowly returning.
 
This photograh taken in 2008 shows diverse rich flora to the left of the footpath which were sown when Old Down was established. Soils are low in fertility due to topsoil removal and there are barely any weed species. To the right of the path you can see a lot of Ragwort and other dominant species but there are few wildflowers and higher fertility arising from past farming.

Reseeded Areas 

 
This photograph of reseeded areas was taken in March 2011, when little is stirring. The picture is very different from April. Cowslips start to flower. Volunteers spend a lot of time noting annual changes in the grassland and sharing what we learn with new volunteers and users of Old Down.

To see some of the wildflowers on Old Down see just a few photos taken in summer 2011.
Comments