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Cows conservation graze the Zig Zag at Box Hill

PUBLISHED: 11:43 13 February 2014 | UPDATED: 11:43 13 February 2014

Cattle on Zig Zag at Box Hill

Cattle on Zig Zag at Box Hill

Archant

In a bid to protect the biodiversity of the area, Surrey Wildlife Trust and the National Trust are working in partnership to conservation graze the Zig Zag Road area of Box Hill near Dorking.

Part of the North Downs and nestled in the heart of Surrey Hills AONB, Box Hill is a Special Area of Conservation and is home to rare and wonderful wildlife such as dormice, the Straw Belle moth and the Adonis Blue butterfly.

The cows will graze the Zig Zag during February, targeting the coarse grasses to create a mosaic of tall clumps, short cropped grasses and bare patches, to allow a greater diversity of plants and animals to flourish.

“It’s a real privilege to graze a site as iconic as the Zig Zag on Box Hill and help improve habitat conditions for a huge range of rare plants and animals,” says James Herd, SWT grazing ranger. “Such a steep and undulating site presents its challenges, but this pales into insignificance when compared to the long-term biodiversity benefits grazing will bring to the habitat condition which all site users can continue to enjoy.”

This sensitive and traditional form of management will also help slow the advance of unwanted scrub that’s threatening the chalk grassland – a rare and very important habitat for wildlife. As a result, beautiful wildflowers such as orchids will be able to continue to prosper on the slopes of Box Hill.

Box Hill is adjacent to Duke’s Plantation (a reserve owned by Surrey County Council and managed by SWT) providing scope to create a Living Landscape between the two sites and through the valley towards Norbury Park.

Joining up reserves is important in providing viable habitat for some of the rarer species such as the Silver Spotted Skipper butterfly, which is found on nearby Betchworth Quarry and Dawcombe (both owned by SWT) .

The Trust now manages a significant stretch of the North Downs that runs from Duke’s Plantation in the west, to Dawcombe in the East.

If you are interested in becoming a cattle ‘looker’, i.e. helping to keep an eye on the cattle and the condition of the fence line, or would like more information, contact James Herd at: james.herd@surreywt.org.uk.

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