Sheep return to help restore land to nature at Kelling Heath

2/6/2015

An area of environmentally sensitive heathland in North Norfolk is being restored to its natural state thanks not to modern technology but by using techniques that nature itself intended.

Kelling Heath Holiday Park in North Norfolk, internationally recognised for its contribution to eco-friendly tourism, has brought in a small flock of sheep to help wage war on the lowland heath's ever encroaching scrub and tree growth. Traditional Norfolk lowland heathland has been disappearing at an alarming rate, largely due to changing farming practices.

Animals are no longer commonly grazed on heaths, leading to the heathers and grasses being taken over by more aggressive vegetation and eventually turning it into scrub woodland. Hence the expansive views, for which Norfolk is especially famous, are gradually disappearing. Kelling Heath is doing everything it can to help clear the scrub to encourage the growth of more heather and grass, thus ensuring the heath and its biodiversity survive for future generations to enjoy.

The four black Welsh Mountain ewes are especially suited to assist in the process, as David Martin, the countryside manager at Kelling Heath Holiday Park explains.

"Welsh Mountain sheep are particularly suited to the rough grazing present on heathland; their stomachs allow them to graze most invasive scrub species, therefore maintaining the internationally scarce lowland heath."As well as eating for England, the sheep will also help trample down bracken which can be so invasive to heathland areas.

This is not the first time sheep have been used at Kelling Heath as fifteen years ago a flock of Hebridean sheep were used to help manage the heath.

There could also be the patter of tiny hooves as it is thought that some of the ewes are in lamb.

“Our visitors will be really pleased to see sheep returning to Kelling Heath, not only will they enjoy seeing them help us manage the heathland habitat but they may see lambs as well” said Mr Martin.

As well as managing the existing heath the countryside team have been busy creating a new heathland habitat from scratch reverting arable land back to its previous state of heather heath, the new heath will be the location for twenty luxury lodges that will be offered for sale.

Creating heathland is not an easy task and substantial investment has gone into making sure ground conditions were right to receive the heather and acid grass seeds that were harvested from the surrounding established heathland.

The end result of this work will be another push by Kelling Heath towards expanding this rare habitat rather than allowing it to disappear, sending a clear message to the Park’s many guests that their visit achieves much more than just enjoying a relaxing break in a very special part of the country.

With a fascinating range of plants, woodland and heathland as well as an interesting diversity of flora and fauna, Kelling Heath, near Holt in North Norfolk, is a holder of a gold award in the Green Tourism Business Scheme and is also the holder of a David Bellamy Gold Award for conservation.

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