Plantlife International

Barnham Cross Common, IP24.

Conservation Works

Barnham Cross Common is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and is also a Special Protection Area (SPA), designated at a European Level, for its value to Woodlark, Nightjar and Stone Curlew as foraging habitats.

Mixtures of bare ground with closely grazed grasses and other plants are vital to many species of insect, such as the Brush-thighed Seed-eater and Set-aside Beetles, which are found in the area along with many species of mining wasps, bees and the richest diversity of ant species of any site within East Anglia.

The Town Council planned vegetation management at this site to maintain public paths and improve wildlife habitat. The works would include removal of scrub and trees, creating soil disturbance and bare ground through rotovating soil inversion, including ploughing of small areas. The scrub and trees had been left to grow unchecked, which had colonised the heath and threatened the native species there. Their removal would encourage dormant seeds to grow, increasing the grassland areas and providing conditions for the potential recolonization of threatened species. The common was also fenced in 2017 to allow grazing animals to return to the area, which would benefit a large number of smaller species of animals, birds, insects and plants.

Maintenance of the footpaths would also encourage visitors to walk in designated areas to allow the grasslands to flourish elsewhere and provide a safer surface for walkers.

TTSR Ltd were contracted to complete works including removal of scrub and trees, creating soil disturbance and bare ground through rotovating soil inversion and ploughing of small areas.

Areas of archaeological interest were left alone, whilst elsewhere a 360-degree selector grab and digger was used to pull out the gorse and scrub. Methodology was employed to comply with HES  objectives (as monitored by Natural England) and keep soil disturbance to a minimum. Over three  hectares were cleared in total and roughly 300 tonnes of gorse and scrub removed.

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