Jan 04

Braunton Burrows Report January 2004

Botanical monitoring for the cattle & sheep grazing trial 1997 to 2003 is complete. An immense amount of data has been collected by the contractor & presented to the commissioning bodies in a report who will use it to benefit the management.
The trial demonstrated that biodiversity has increased where grazing & mowing is carried out & invasive species decrease - percentages of herbs increase and woody species decrease.
Grazing was shown to be more effective than mowing both in terms of cost and quality of the flora. The trials have been invaluable in demonstrating the effects of different grazing levels, necessity for continuity of grazing and the effects grazing has on several important species.
A scientific paper of the trial will be published as it is one of the most detailed studies on the effects of grazing on sand dunes.
My wife has organised a programme of Biosphere talks at Braunton Countryside Centre, walks on various parts of the Biosphere Reserve plus events such as beach cleans and children's activities.
This is an enlarged programme compared with last year and we are looking for anyone who can lead walks relating to the Biosphere Reserve.
Mary Breeds is applying for a NDDC Community Grant for help with funding these events e.g. publishing programmes. A letter of support from the Forum would be much appreciated.
Management has been scaled up, see circulated maps and photos. The 1999/2000 excavations for re-establishing conditions for Water Germander have proved successful: the plant returned to 7 of 8 excavated sites,54 plants recorded in 2002, 364 in 2003. More extensive areas are presently being excavated to recreate wet slack communities for Water Germander and Fen orchid amonst others, bare sand on drier areas for Scrambled egg lichen and the Small Blue butterfly. Military training has also been used to help recreate bare sandy conditions.
Scrub clearance has been scaled up from small chain saw operations (which leave rootstocks to regenerate) to excavation of complete bushes, burning & burial.
The mowing programme, with tractors cutting, raking and baling continues. So you may find 8 machines at work: 2 swing shovels, 3 tractors with dump trailers & 3 tractors with cutting, raking and baling equipment.
Undesirable activities have continued with illicit camping, raves/beach parties, rustling, poaching and motor cycle scrambling. EN convened a meeting with Christies, MOD the Police to devise a strategy to combat these problems. afflicting the site.
Rabbit counts continue with averages of 489 per count 34 counts this year compared with 69 with 37 counts in 1999.
Map details to be finalised with digitised information some problems before a replacement map could be produced.