Report Jan 2004

REPORT ON BRAUNTON BURROWS FOR THE TAW TORRIDGE ESTUARY FORUM 1/04 

Research

The botanical monitoring to evaluate the cattle & sheep grazing trials 1997 to 2003 are now complete. An immense amount of data has been collected by the contract surveyor & presented to the commissioning bodies in a report which will be used to plan future management.

The trial demonstrated that where grazing & mowing are carried out the percentage of herbs have increased and woody invasive species decreased resulting in an overall increase in biodiversity.

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 on several important plant species and the necessity for a continuation of grazing.
A scientific paper is being produced as it was one of the most detailed studies to have taken place on the effects of grazing on sand dunes.

Education

Mary, my wife, has organised a programme of 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 has applied for a NDDC Community Grant to help fund these events e.g. publishing programmes and to better equip the Countryside Centre. 

Management

The 1999/2000 excavations to re-create conditions for Water Germander have proved successful: the plant recolonised to 7 out of 8 excavated sites with 54 plants recorded in 2002, 364 in 2003. More extensive areas are presently being excavated to recreate wet slack communities for Water Germander and other plants such as the Fen orchid and Petalwort, and bare sand on drier areas for ephemeral plant species, 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 the excavation of complete bushes which are then either burnt or buried.
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, sheep rustling, poaching and motor cycle scrambling. EN convened a meeting with Christies, MOD and the Police in order to devise a strategy to combat these problems. 

Rabbit counts continue with averages of 489 animals per count on 34 counts in 2003 compared with 69 animals per count on 37 counts in 1999.
The updating of the 1984 large scale map of Braunton Burrows is in progress with the addition of new digitised information.

J M Breeds

19.1.04
 
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