News Release Jan 04

News Release

27 January 2004

Grazing is good for the Burrows 

Studies indicate grazing benefits special sand dune flowers 

The first results to emerge from the Braunton Burrows grazing experiment indicate that careful grazing with cattle and sheep benefits the special plants and animals of the Burrows, by controlling invasive scrub and coarse grasses. 

The trials were set up in 1997 to help guide future management of this internationally important wildlife site. The trials are funded and facilitated by a partnership of the Ministry of Defence, Christie Devon Estates Trust and English Nature. The final season of fieldwork has now been completed and the final report is due in 2004.

James Diamond, English Nature Conservation Officer, said “ The emerging results are giving a clear indication that grazing provides real benefits for the very special plant communities found on Braunton Burrows. In the grazed areas, invasive plants such as bramble and willow have been controlled, whilst scarce sand dune species, such as selfheal and bird’s foot trefoil, have increased.”

“ People enjoying the Burrows in the last few years will have become used to seeing the Devon Red cattle and Portland sheep out in the grazing areas. These local breeds have done well on the rough vegetation on the Burrows. The trials have demonstrated that grazing can occur on the site without causing welfare problems for the animals or interference with the military and public uses of the site. ” said John Breeds, MoD Site Supervisor.

Raymond Coldwell, Christie Devon Estates Trust Chief Executive said “ These results are very interesting and demonstrate the benefits of the careful approach taken through the grazing trials. We will now need to give very careful consideration as to how we can apply these results across the Burrows as a whole, taking into account the wide range of interests involved.” 


Notes for Editors

1. The natural beauty of Braunton Burrows has been safeguarded for several centuries under the careful ownership of the Christie family. The Christie Devon Estates Trust allows public enjoyment of the site, where this will not compromise nature conservation and military training objectives.

2. The Ministry of Defence occupies the southern two-thirds of the site under lease, for the purposes military training. The Commandant at Fremington Camp is responsible for day-to-day management of the training estate, with professional advice from the Defence Estates and its private sector partner, Landmarc Support Services. 

3. English Nature is the Government’s statutory advisor on nature conservation. It provides advice and support to managers of special wildlife sites, including Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Special Areas of Conservation (SAC).

4. The exceptional wildlife and geological interest of Braunton Burrows is protected as a SSSI under national law and as a SAC under European legislation. They also form the core area of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. 

For more information

Contact: James Diamond, English Nature Conservation Officer (01392 889771) or John Breeds MoD Site Supervisor (07773085984). 

High quality JPEG images of sand dune flowers and grazing animals on Braunton Burrows are available from James Diamond.