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Wild Ennerdale

Location:Ennerdale, Cumbria

Habitats:Woodland, Upland

Livestock:Galloway cattle

In brief:Naturalistic upland grazing with Galloway cattle in wild Ennerdale

Contact:Gareth Browning

Tel:017687 76816

Wild by name and wild by nature - the Wild Ennerdale Project is a landscape-scale partnership project, which is allowing natural processes to play a greater part in shaping the future landscape and ecology of the Ennerdale Valley in Cumbria

In practical terms this means leaving dead trees where they fall, allowing the River Liza to break its banks and flood new areas of the valley, naturalistic grazing with a free-ranging herd of cattle and the removal of some of the traces of humankind (including the some of the conifer plantations that cloaked the valley sides). All of this should enhance both the wild qualities of the valley and the experience of a sense of wildness for the visitor.

A small herd of hardy Galloway cattle was introduced to a 145ha pilot site at Silver Cove in Spring 2006. The site includes heather fell, open grassland, conifer and broadleaf woodland, crags and scree. The herd of Galloways, which are well-suited to the upland terrain and mixed vegetation vegetation, is jointly owned by the Wild Ennerdale Partnership and a local farmer in Ennerdale who manages them. The welfare of the cattle is considered paramount and they are checked regularly in line with all current legislation. However, intervention only occurs if deemed necessary on welfare grounds by the farmer, and otherwise the cattle are left to feed and roam within the site all year round.

The impact of cattle on the site is being monitored through fixed point photography, small exclosures, aerial photography and vegetation surveys over time. In addition a tracking collar has been fitted to one of the cattle, making locating the herd easier for the farmer and enabling herd movements to be monitored within the site. The GPS collar will regularly record the location of the cattle, and locations can then be superimposed over vegetation maps for the site to gauge the extent to which different vegetation types are grazed by the cattle.

Partners involved in the project are the National Trust, United Utilities and the Forerstry Commission. Read the latest Wild Ennerdale newsletter here.