Cattle to help "rewild" edge-of-town nature reserve

A neglected West of Scotland site is being turned into a diverse wildlife habitat by a mixture of native tree planting and cattle grazing.

Image: Harry Richards
Image: Harry Richards

Volunteers have planted more than 2,000 native trees including willow, alder and aspen at the Scottish Wildlife Trust's Shewalton Wood reserve, which covers more than 100 hectares on the edge of Irvine, Ayrshire.

A new fence has also been installed to allow cattle to graze and break up an area of overgrown grass, helping existing native woodland to expand naturally.

SWT reserves manager Gill Smart said: "This work is part of a long-term project to transform long-abandoned farmland and poor quality plantation into great habitats for wildlife."

She added: "Cattle are perfect for grazing down long tussocks of grass and breaking up the turf with their hooves. This lets tree seeds reach the ground and germinate, allowing the woodland to expand naturally, without the use of chemicals or machinery."

This work has been funded by North Ayrshire Council through the Scottish Landfill Communities Fund as administered by LandTrust, based at the University of Glasgow.

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