Uckfield's West Park Local Nature Reserve

Sheep to aid nature reserve’s plant diversity

Grazing sheep are to be introduced to a new area of West Park Local Nature Reserve (LNR), Uckfield.

They will be used to reduce the bracken and increase the diversity of plants on land at the northeastern end of the reserve behind Saunders Close and Egles Grove, running to the boundary with Buckswood Grange.

The scheme is similar to one in a fenced off area of the town council-owned LNR to the south, which is permanently enclosed, and accessed by the public when sheep are not there, through two gates.

A report to members of the council’s environment and leisure committee said: “Reproducing this in the new area is made difficult by the network of paths criss-crossing it which would require many gates.”

West Park Nature Reserve, Uckfield

West Park Nature Reserve, Uckfield

The report from ranger, Geoff Pollard, said the sheep would come from the Sussex Wildlife Trust (SWT) which has a much larger flock of conservation grazing animals.

The trust’s grazier had suggested using electric fencing to contain the sheep when they were on the site.

Mr Pollard has visited a nature reserve on the outskirts of Brighton where an area of about 100 acres was subdivided by electric fencing when grazing took place.

It is possible sheep could move into the new area at West Park from September.

Dog walkers

There was some concern from councillors that fencing a new area would reduce the area for dog walkers to allow their animals to run free.

However, it was pointed out the land was a nature reserve and that the amount of electric fencing to be purchased – 300 metres – would only allow a relatively small area to be enclosed at any one time.

Total cost of the project is budgeted at just over £1,000.

The town council will publicise the scheme in advance so people understand what is happening and the ecological benefits to the reserve.

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