Marwell Wildlife and technology company QinetiQ achieved a major milestone this month as our partnership to restore Eelmoor Marsh Site of Special Scientific Interest celebrated 20 years of grazing management with impressive outcomes for local biodiversity. It has also been 40 years since the site conservation group began the biological recording that resulted in the site first receiving protected status.
Przewalski’s horses were released in 1995 followed a year later by a herd of Highland cattle, helping to restore important ecological processes. Mechanical methods have also been employed to remove invasive trees, stimulate the seed bank, modify hydrology to retain water and diversify neglected habitats.
The rich complex of wet, dry and humid heath, mire, species rich grassland and woodland communities now supports over 400 species of conservation concern. The site is a haven for rare fungi, insectivorous plants, orchids and other notable flora, insects, reptiles, amphibians and specialist heathland birds. Having responded favourably to management, over a third of Britain’s dragonfly and damselfly species, and nearly half of Britain’s butterfly species can be found at Eelmoor Marsh.
Floral recovery has been remarkable with a significant increase in species richness. Rarities such as the pale heath violet Viola lactea increased dramatically following introduction of grazing management, while others such as yellow bartsia Parentucellia viscosa reappeared having previously been lost to the site and have thrived ever since.
Dr Sam Healy, Group Director for Corporate Responsibility at QinetiQ, said: “Our long-term partnership with Marwell Wildlife has been invaluable. It is with a great sense of pride that QinetiQ is able to contribute towards the conservation of important habitats and species of flora and fauna. Supporting this type of programme is at the heart of our approach to environmental stewardship.”
Download our Eelmoor Marsh Project pdf. (1.6 MB)
Photo credits Horse image (c) Paul Drane & Early marsh orchid