- Wildlilfe Sites Officers
Tel: 01234 364213
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What are they?
Semi-improved grasslands are generally permanent grasslands which have been subject to some form of agricultural improvement, making them more agriculturally productive but less valuable for wildlife. Agricultural improvement can include fertilizer application, use of herbicide, drainage, overgrazing/poaching and excessive harrowing.
What are they composed of?
Typical grass species include cock’s foot, common bent, crested dog’s- tail, false oat grass, meadow fescue, meadow foxtail, red fescue, sweet vernal- grass, timothy and tufted hair- grass. These grasslands can still retain a good number of valuable wildflowers such as red clover, common bird’s-foot trefoil, ox-eye daisy and black knapweed which are important for bumblebees and many other insects.
Natural England defines semi-improved grassland as containing less than 30% cover of rye- grasses and white clover and contains between 8 and 15 species per square metre. Cover of wildflowers and sedges is generally over 10% excluding white clover, creeping buttercup and injurious weeds (creeping thistle, spear thistle, broad leaved dock, curled dock and common ragwort).
How can they be managed for wildlife?
Grassland management should aim to remove the year’s growth, prevent the growth/spread of scrub and to control areas of rank vegetation or undesirable species. An annual management regime is important to developing unimproved (species rich) grasslands. This could be achieved by:
Enhancing semi-improved grasslands or creating unimproved (species rich) grasslands from semi-improved grasslands
Whether you need to enhance or create unimproved grassland will depend on the type of grassland you have. Semi-improved grassland covers a very broad range of grassland habitats from almost unimproved (species-rich) grassland that can recover to unimproved status with minimal intervention, to species-poor semi-improved grassland that is just slightly more species-rich than agriculturally improved grassland and would require significant resources to restore it.
Always consider managing your existing grassland traditionally for, at least, a couple of years, if you believe that it contains a number of wildflowers and grass species before you even consider using invasive restoration techniques. For more information on traditional grassland management see the box above on ‘How can they be managed for wildlife?’
For more information on enhancement and creation techniques please click on the relevant bullet point below:
- Restore your moderately species rich semi-improved grassland into unimproved (species rich) grassland using grassland enhancement techniques.
- Create an unimproved (species rich) grassland from your species poor semi-improved grassland using grassland creation techniques.
Receive further advice and help and/or a free site visit from a Wildlife Sites Officer
If you would like your grassland to be grazed, you can register your land by clicking here
If you would like your grassland to be cut for hay, you can register your land by clicking here
There are some opportunities for funding
Call for the government to save remaining wildlife rich grassland and help landowners halt the decline. Read more at http://wildlifebcn.org/news
|Free wildlife spotters guide|
To order your free guide on spring flowers, butterflies or garden birds visit the Wildlife Trust’s website on http://www.wildlifebcn.org
|Flora Locale Training Workshops 2014|
Flora Locale are offering a programme of training and demonstration events. Read more
|BCN Wildlife Trust Training Courses|
The Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire is offering a series of training workshops in 2014. These range from species identification to habitat management and practical conservation. Read more