| Conservation fencing in the Gully
On the 16th August work will begin to fence a hidden valley in the Avon Gorge known as the Gully. This is the next stage in an exciting project by the Avon Gorge and Downs Wildlife Project to protect some of Bristol’s rarest plants.
Why are we fencing the area?
The Avon Gorge is one of the most important botanical sites in the UK. 27 nationally rare and scarce plants grow here, most of them small wild flowers that grow in open grasslands.
The Gully, was once an open, grazed, grassy area where rare plants and invertebrates thrived. Over the years it became overgrown with trees and scrub. Since 2004 the Avon Gorge and Downs Wildlife Project has been working to open up the Gully by carefully removing trees and scrub. This has been done to link up remaining small patches of grassland with the aim of creating a much larger, more viable area.To ensure that cleared areas stay free of scrubby re-growth we’ve been cutting them back every winter. However, doing it by hand is very labour intensive and not always effective as it grows back very quickly.
This area is being fenced so that a small flock of goats can be introduced later in the year*. They will help restore the flower-rich grasslands by nibbling the scrub, bramble and ivy. Goats are a natural and sustainable way of controlling scrubby vegetation and suit the steep and difficult terrain.
Will the public still be able to access the Gully once the goats arrive?
Yes, we’ve made sure that there are field gates and kissing gates on all of the main paths into the Gully. We’ve also set the fenceline back from the edge of the Gorge so climbers can easily access the cliff face. The fence has been designed by the City Council’s Landscape Design Team so that it fits in with the area. And, the line the fence takes has been carefully considered so that, in most areas, it is hidden by trees and will not be visible to visitors.
In April 2009 the public were consulted about the grazing project as part of a wider consultation for a new management plan for the Avon Gorge.The goat grazing project received overwhelming public support with 98% of those who filled in feedback forms saying they backed the proposals. Conservation organisations such as Butterfly Conservation, Plantlife and Avon Wildlife Trust have also backed the proposals.
* The goats are coming from another conservation grazing flock. We’re hoping that they’ll arrive in the autumn but it depends when the other grazing project can make them available. We’ll keep you posted as to when they’ll arrive.
For further information about this project contact: The Downs’ Ranger on 0117 9736210