4 December 1998

Trusts cry out for graziers

CONSERVATION trusts all over the country are trying desperately to find graziers for nature reserves where cattle and sheep have been sold because of the industry crisis.

Among them is the Suffolk Wildlife Trust which is concerned that an increasing number of wildlife-rich grasslands are suffering from scrub invasion due to a lack of grazing by cattle.

The cattle ate the poor vegetation to allow smaller plants to thrive, making it an ideal breeding habitat for some bird species.

The situation is highlighted at the Sizewell Belts marshland reserve where a 150-head herd of beef cattle once grazed.

Farmer Glen Ogilvie, whose family had grazed livestock on the marshes for decades, reluctantly decided to sell his herd last year because the strength of the green £ was leading to cheap imports and depressing home-grown prices.

The trust has been unable to find a replacement grazier.

"If it had not been for people like us there would never have been any grassland nature reserves," said Mr Ogilvie.

Derek Moore, Suffolk Wildlife Trust director, said grazing was a perfect example of how farming and conservation could work together.

"If we are to have a safe and sustainable future for farming and wildlife it is this combination that needs to be exploited with a Common Agricultural Policy that rewards environmental action, not production," he added.