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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 25 March, 2003, 14:05 GMT
Rare cattle join conservation effort
White park bull
Volunteers have been asked to keep a watchful eye on the cattle
One of Britain's rarest and oldest breeds of cattle is doing its bit for the environment - by eating its way through a forest.

Distinctive White Park cattle are being brought to Savernake Forest in Wiltshire to forage for food.

It is hoped that by grazing on the woodland floor and nibbling on shrubs they will help to recreate the natural open glades in which oak and beech trees thrive.

Wood pastures in the forest, a Site of Special Scientific Interest near Marlborough, have not been grazed on regularly for more than 60 years.

But now conservationists hope the cattle will provide a much-needed boost for the rare lichens and flora for which the area is known.

'Positive development'

The grazing scheme is a collaboration between English Nature, the Forestry Commission, and the Savernake Estate.

Local forester Frazer Bradbury said: "This is a really positive development for Savernake Forest's wildlife and will also be of interest to visitors.

"We will be monitoring the effects of the grazing carefully, to ensure that wildlife really does benefit."

David Hodd, Wiltshire Interactive Grazing Initiative officer, appealed for volunteers to help the project succeed by keeping a watchful eye on the welfare of the cattle.

He said, "We need the help of local visitors to act as 'lookers' and quite literally keep an eye on the cattle for us.

"It is not a hard job, but one that requires a small, but regular time commitment.

"If you visit Savernake regularly, or would welcome this little prompt to go out and enjoy the forest, please get in touch."

Training and support will be provided.




SEE ALSO:
Big Belly gets a corset
05 Feb 02 |  England


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