Plan for Knettishall Heath improvement is published

Rare breed Exmoor ponies will help maintain  Knettishall's heathland

Rare breed Exmoor ponies will help maintain Knettishall's heathland

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An ambitious plan to boost the wildlife value of Knettishall Heath while improving access has been published by Suffolk Wildlife Trust.

The site, formerly leased by Suffolk County Council as a country park was bought by Suffolk Wildlife Trust in 2012. It has now published its ‘vision for the future’ of the reserve as an e-book and held a public consultation with users last weekend.

Steve Aylwood, the trust’s head of property, said aerial photographs from the 1940s showed barely a tree on the site.

“We’ll never get it back to how it was in the 1940s, but there’s scope to get back some open heathland,” he said.

The plan includes getting rid of 4km of internal fencing and installing four cattle grids on road that cross the reserve so roadside fencing can be removed, creating a ‘New Forest look’, grazed by Exmoor ponies and cattle.

Fragmented areas of heath will be joined up, including by felling commercial pine woods.

“That gives us the opportunity to restore several acres of Brecks grassland and heathland that was only lost 40 or 50 years ago,” Steve said. “There are a whole host of plants that will quickly recolonise the area, including some nationally scarce species like purple milk vetch and field mouse ear.”

The plans also include an area where dogs can be walked off the lead all year round so ground nesting birds are not disturbed and a permissive bridleway.

See the full plan at www.suffolkwildlifetrust.org