Hello, below is a statement from the chief exec of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust on the recent works that have taken place on Bramshot Heath. if you would like to contact me further please do so on firstname.lastname@example.org
Bramshot Heath habitat restoration April 2012
Public concern regarding barbed wire fencing
What is happening here?
Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust is the leading nature conservation charity in the two counties. We are working closely with the Ministry of Defence, who own this land, and Natural England to restore this important area of local heathland as part of a ten year habitat improvement programme across north and east Hampshire.
Over the past few decades, more than half of our heathlands have been lost through neglect, becoming overgrown with scrub and young trees. This has caused wildflowers, heather, butterflies, birds and other wildlife to disappear as they cannot survive under the dense shade and need more open conditions. Luckily, heaths can be restored to their former glory with a combination of tree and scrub removal and extensive grazing with traditional breeds of cattle. In order to keep the cattle from escaping onto busy roads, fencing is needed.
Why is the area fenced with barbed wire?
Barbed wire fencing is the most effective and secure type of fencing for keeping livestock in as cattle cannot push through it. It is easy and quick to repair if cut, is robust and can be used in uneven terrain; it is also relatively inexpensive. For these reasons, barbed wire is our preferred choice when fencing and grazing. We sometimes use stock netting, but this is less effective at keeping animals in. It is very difficult to repair if cut and is less robust, sagging as animals lean on it and becoming gappy where there is uneven terrain. Small dogs often push through gaps in the mesh which further weakens it. Stock netting is also a problem in areas with large deer populations; deer jumping over can become caught and hung up in the closely fitted wire strands.
What about the public and dogs?
When planning the works at Bramshot Heath we were very aware of the potentially busy roads around the site and the heavy public use. Robust and secure fencing is especially important to keep livestock in the grazed area in these circumstances, hence our choice of barbed wire as appropriate for this site. Because of the heavy public use we installed 21 access points around the site – many more than usual for a site of this size.
Some dog walkers have expressed concerns about the lowest strand of barbed wire as they feel it could hurt animals running underneath. Whilst we believe that the risk of dogs being injured is minimal if they are kept close to their owners and "under control" as required under MOD byelaws and wildlife legislation, we are prepared to make a goodwill concession in response to concerns expressed by some visitors. The Trust is a reasonable and professional organisation and we wish to maintain good relations with the public. During April we will modify the fence adjacent to the open grassland area by moving the lowest strand of barbed wire up by 4" and running a strand of plain wire in its original place.
We hope to see you at a guided walk in the near future to learn about the rich variety of wildlife we are helping to recover at Bramshot Heath. Look out for posters on site advertising opportunities to meet our staff and get involved.
Debbie Tann, Chief Executive
Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust