Therfield Heath Conservation Habitat Management
Therfield Heath contains some of the richest chalk grasslands in England and is the largest of this habitat in the county.
Most of the site is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest for the diverse and rare chalk grassland species and specific insect species which live there. The conservation objectives for the Heath are to maintain the habitats and species found on this site in favorable conditions. For chalk grassland to be in favorable condition negative indicator species, such as creeping thistle, heather, dock, ragwort, and nettles, must make up less than 5% of ground cover. Tor grass should be less than 1% cover, scrub cover, no more than 5-10%, and tree cover, no more than 2%. To achieve these targets, an action plan has been created.
Cheryll Wilson, Head of Conservation for the Conservators of Therfield Heath and Greens, has successfully produced a habitat management plan which has now been assented by Natural England. This plan, based on knowledge and science from local and national sources will be the basis for conservation works undertaken from September 2022 to September 2026.
This plan sets out grazing as a preference, especially in sensitive areas of grassland. Grazing will be taking place as late in the season as possible once seeds have dispersed. If grazing is not possible then at least one cut and collect will be undertaken between September and March. The rabbit population is to be managed to avoid overgrazing. A large part of the habitat management plan is dedicated to controlling scrub and recovering land lost to scrub encroachment. Woodland management is to be carried out sensitively and will vary depending on tree location, density, and species.
Although Cheryll is now moving on to new pastures, this plan will provide structure and consistency for years to come. The improvement across the Heath will be a legacy to be proud of and we would like to thank Cheryll for her contributions over the last year and a half.