The Finemere Wood volunteers have been basking in glorious sunny September days. Bathed in the beautiful, warming, golden light of autumn, this engaging group of people can be found out on the adjoining meadows, once again facing the conundrum of fallen fences.
It is important that these barricades are kept in good repair as they serve to keep livestock contained and safe. The meadows at Finemere are grazed periodically throughout the year with sheep and cattle belonging to a local farmer. Grazing animals provide huge benefits to wildlife, encouraging and maintaining biodiverse habitats.
Sheep are natural lawnmowers and will crop the grass close to the ground. Cattle, on the other hand, are messier. A diverse structure of vegetation is established which opens up spaces for invertebrates and flowers to flourish. Hooves create bare patches of ground and give seeds dormant in the soil a chance to germinate. Cow dung provides the ideal environment for many insects and fungi to thrive.
The grazers control scrub and keep these areas open; often they choose to eat dominant plant species which allows the more delicate flowers to bloom. And so it is a win-win situation: a nutritious and varied diet for our animal associates and ever-improving species-rich meadows for our wildlife.