Highland cattle bid to keep common tree-free

COUNTRYSIDE rangers struggling to find new methods to protect a rare lowland heath could introduce Highland cattle to stop trees taking over the sensitive habitat.

Loxley and Wadsley Common, on the edge of Sheffield, is maintained by the council using a grant from Government environment body Natural England.

But that arrangement will come to an end in October, and rangers have been told to find a sustainable way of maintaining the heath, which is protected by legislation.

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Scott Porter, of Sheffield Council’s ranger service, said a consultation had now been launched to gauge local people’s reaction to the cattle idea.

He added: “A lot of people who live in the area use the common for dog walking and other leisure activities and we want to give them the chance to have their say.

“But we are in a difficult situation, because it will not be possible to maintain the common in the way we do now in future, and if we can’t use cattle to graze then pioneer tree species will encroach.

“We have decided to use Highland cattle because they are amenable and docile, and the farm which is supplying them has even offered to de-horn them to make them less intimidating.”

If the scheme is approved by councillors Highland cattle from the city’s Graves Park farm will be taken to the site in summer to graze.