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Neroche Landscape Partnership Scheme

Location:Blackdown Hills AONB. Devon and Somerset border

Habitats:Woodland, Wood pasture, Broad-leaved woodland

Livestock:Longhorn Cattle

In brief:A low intensity grazing scheme to maintain a landsacpe of broad-leaved woodland, wood pasture and open space on a Forestry Comission estate.

Contact:Gavin Saunders

Tel:01823 680846


Centred around the northern escarpment and wooded ridge of the Blackdown Hills AONB, the Neroche Scheme is partnership working on a landscape-scale - linking the historic environment, community work, education and land management.

Here some 300 hectares (approximately one third) of the Forestry Commission estate are being reverted from conifer plantation to an intimate mixture broadleaved woodland, ‘wood pasture’ and connected open space. To maintain this new landscape a low-intensity grazing scheme is being established in the forest, using traditional English Longhorn cattle in partnership with a local grazier.

Timber harvesting work began in 2006 to clear the first grazing units in the Neroche Forest, and the resulting open space was prepared for grazing through raking and burning of brash, lowering of stumps and erection of new stock fencing. A small herd of Longhorn heiffers was introduced onto one 40 hectare area in May 2007, where some forage was already regenerating on newly cleared land, while a small herd of Belted Galloways is being acquired for a second site where the terrain is more severe.

The herd will be gradually expanded over the coming years as further areas are prepared. Ownership of the capital value of the core herd is retained by the Forestry Commission on behalf of the Neroche Partnership, while the grazier will take surplus male animals to finish for local sale, in return for managing the herd. The cattle will be overwintered outside the forest on a specially constructed open woodchip corral.

The Neroche Scheme is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The lead partner is Forest Enterprise, and the main funding partners are the Blackdown Hills AONB, the county and district councils, and Natural England, A Local Stakeholders Group, drawn from the local community, ensures the views of local residents are integral to the Scheme.