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Formerly High Weald Grazing Network / Weald Meadows Initiative

Location:High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Sussex, Kent

Habitats:Various types of habitat


In brief:Long term landscape scale work to improve the management of species rich grasslands and heathlands across the High Weald AONB. The grazing network project has now finished but is continued in other forms through other project work (the AONB has and is also involved in numerous other projects that facilitate grazing management). Lots of information and experience is available direct from the AONB and on their website. The Weald Meadows Initiative (now Weald Meadows Partnership) has over 20 years experience in all aspects of wildflower meadow management.

Contact:Weald Meadows Partnership

Tel:01580 879957 /

Nestled in between Kent and Sussex, livestock grazing has the woodlands of the High Weald were used by early farmers as a seasonal source of food for their livestock: (usually pigs). This method of feeding pigs is known as pannage. Farmers from a particular village returned with their pigs to the same woodland place year after year. These isolated woodland pastures were called dens. As dens were mostly used during the early autumn, the farmers would have built shelters in which to keep warm while watching their pigs. In time, dens became permanent places of settlement. Over the centuries permanent farmsteads replaced seasonal dens, some of the uncultivated scrub, wood and heath came into agricultural use. By the 14th century the Weald had become a landscape of woods, heathy commons, and small fields - looking much as it does today.

Pannage has ceased, but grazing still plays an important part in the creation of the High Weald's character and still plays an important part in maintaining its pastoral landscape today - particularly on our rarer habitats. For example, Hebridean sheep and feral goats are used to eat their way through unwanted trees and shrubs on heathland reserves in the High Weald.
The Weald Grazing Network was set up to help support the owners of important sites, the network underpinning both the Weald Meadows Initiative and the Weald Heathland Initiative by providing a mechanism for the long term sustainable management of these sites.

The Weald Meadows Initiative was established to ensure the long term survival of the irreplaceable species rich grassland of the Weald through providing practical support to landowners to help secure their management and productive and economic use. This project is nw closed but continues to try and support landowners under the Weald Meadows Partnership