The enclosures known as the Oak enclosure and
Arboretum have previously undergone management with pigs to start
the process of restoring the woodland meadow areas.
This is specified as an objective in the Holland Park
Woodland Management Plan: to restore and maintain meadow and
grassland habitats in the Wildlife enclosure, Arboretum and Oak
The pigs previously grazed the enclosures to
reduce the bramble and nettles and clear the ground to make way for
more meadow species. The pigs were most successful in the Oak
enclosure which has seen minimal bramble and nettle
return. In the Arboretum the pigs were less successful.
This site had been left un-grazed for two years and there were
not enough pigs to cover the ground effectively, so the nettles in
this enclosure still make up a large proportion of the
In order to continue the restoration programme
of the woodland meadows cattle have been introduced to graze over
the summer in both enclosures in 2013. This is seen to be an
innovative and progressive approach to woodland management within
London. This approach will have a minimal impact on the park's
We will be using English Longhorn cattle, a
native breed, which are good generalist foragers and will reduce
the biomass on both sites, and will encourage an increase in
diversity of wildflowers in the meadows.
The use of cows will help reduce the need for
chemicals and mechanical interference although an initial strim of
the nettles in the Arboretum has taken place to provide easier
foraging for the cows when they arrive.
It has been found that cows can be used in
various woodland management situations to help with the overall
management of the woodland. The cows provide an excellent natural
clearing source, and can be used to manage the removal of bracken,
bramble and nettles. Cows reduce the need for chemicals and
mechanical interference on scarification sites. They can also help
in the removal of invasive exotic weeds. Cows can easily be used to
clear the ‘brash’ and undergrowth of woodland to help the
regeneration of saplings, woodland pasture and small herbaceous
Cow Paddocks within Holland Park
Initially the project ran in the Arboretum and
is now being extended into the Oak enclosure.
(Click on the image to enlarge the map)
The Cow enclosures (paddocks) are fenced using
electrified “stock fencing” which is set back from the existing
chestnut fencing. This double fencing prevents the cows from
escaping into the larger woodland enclosure and also prevents
interference from park users.
The woodland area has been registered with the
Rural Payments Agency (RPA). RPA is an Executive Agency of
the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). RPA
is a major delivery body for Defra, and has developed the Rural
Land Register (RLR) which holds digital maps of all registered land
The aim of this project is to restore the
wildflower meadow in both of these enclosures. This is necessary,
as the area has become encroached with bramble and
The success of this project will be monitored
and will inform the longer term management plan for these
areas. We may introduce grazing over a number of years to
improve the floral diversity of these enclosures.
The cows will not eat the much loved daffodil
and bluebell bulbs. While they may turn over the bulbs in certain
areas, which is likely to reduce this year’s flowers, in the long
term the bulbs will benefit from the disturbance and being
“chipped”. This will mean that they are likely to flower more
vigorously in following seasons.
Wildflower meadows are a valued part of our
countryside and are one of our fastest disappearing habitats: over
95 per cent have been lost. As a result, many of our native
wildflowers are in decline and some have almost disappeared.
Wildflower meadows support birds and small mammals; they are also
home to many invertebrates, including butterflies, grasshoppers and
About the cows
The cows we are using are British Longhorns.
Longhorns are one of the oldest and larger of the native breeds of
British cow. The breed was originally used as oxen to plough the
land, potential was seen by pioneers such as Robert Bakewell in the
1700s and with the help of selective breeding the longhorn rose to
fame as a superior beef animal.
Longhorns are renowned for their docility,
strong maternal instincts and rough grazing abilities. Where
other cattle would turn up their noses the Longhorn digs in:
nettles, diverse grasses, wild flowers and thistles, it eats them
all, making it a fantastic grazing animal.