Balsam for Breakfast at Farndon Willow Holt

Trent Vale community grants awarded funding to the Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust Newark Local Group to pay for fencing to enable sheep to graze the Himalayan balsam infested Farndon Willow Holt Nature Reserve.

Satisfied Hebredean sheep belonging to the Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust at Farndon Willow HoltLocal volunteers putting up fencing around Farndon Willow Holt Nature Reserve

Trent Vale grants provided fencing for Nottingamshire Wildlife Trust's Farndon Willow Holt to enable the grazing of Hebredian sheep in an attempt to reduce weed infestation that is threatening the Reserve.

In 2010 they made light work of the invasive Himalayan balsam that has infested woodland that would have otherwise taken months to clear by hand. The sheep have helped to control the weed, which can reach heights of more than 3m. A bite to the bottom of the stem toppled them and brought the tasty leaves and flowers within easy reach. The added effect of trampling has helped to clear around 4 hectares, allowing other native plants a chance to get some sunlight. Grazing has begun again this Spring in 2011 when the plant is smaller and more sensitive. 

Reserves Officer for Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust said “the sheep have far exceeded our expectations, and this is clearly a very effective way to tackle what is in many areas a major problem for biodiversity. Hopefully this experience will encourage other land managers to consider increasing the use of grazing to tackle balsam and allow native plants and the wildlife they support to return.”