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Ventnor Downs

Location:Ventnor Downs, Isle of Wight

Habitats:Grassland

Livestock:

In brief:

Contact:Jo Hodgkins

Tel:01494 559776

Email:joanne.hodgkins@nationaltrust.org.uk

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In 1992, after trying cattle grazing and fighting a losing battle against scrub and especially Holm Oak encroachment, the National Trust introduced feral goats (7 Nannies and 2 Billies). The population now is kept at 20 – 25 adults with surplus removed at the annual muster (where the animals are given a health check).

Vegetation changes

Detailed mapping and monitoring of the vegetation has revealed:

· A decrease in the proportion of woodland from 1992 and a corresponding increase in bare ground (this is partly due to small scale erosion in and around Goats favoured camping grounds at top of slopes)

· A decrease in tall grassland and an increase in short turf (Goat and Rabbit grazing / browsing)

· A shift from young scrub to short turf and tall scrub

· Woody species declined generally Why?

· Goats are predominantly browsers, though will graze

· They bark strip