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A 10-year plan for Staffordshire County Council to manage the conservation of Cannock Chase has been approved.

People to have their say on protecting Cannock Chase’s natural habitat

People are being invited to have their say on the best ways to look after Cannock Chase’s natural habitat.

Cannock Chase Country Park, Bevin’s Birches and the adjoining land are much loved by visitors and tranquil areas to walk dogs, ride bikes or horses and explore the wildlife. They also lie within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a Special Area of Conservation, known for their nature and heritage.

But, left alone, this unique landscape which makes Cannock Chase so special will become overgrown, affecting views, routes, wildlife and heritage.

Now, a project by Staffordshire County Council, RSPB and Natural England is exploring options on how the area can be protected for the future.

People are being invited to have their say at a drop-in event at Cannock Chase Visitor Centre, Marquis Drive, on Sunday 16 October from 11am to 5pm or online at www.managingcannockchase.co.uk.

Gill Heath, Cabinet Member for Communities and the Environment at Staffordshire County Council said:

People who know Cannock Chase will know what a truly magnificent place it really is. But not managing the habitat properly means the land will change and the habitats will become scrubby bramble, bracken and trees.

“In the past, local people shaped what the land looked like by grazing cows and sheep, collecting firewood and harvesting bracken, heath and turf. That resulted in the unique mix of wild plants and animals that live here today.

“Over recent years we have used cutting, burning and spraying to restore the open landscape.  We now need to review how this has worked and find the best way of managing the land to protect it for future generations to enjoy and we want people’s views on how best to do this. I would encourage people to come along to the drop-in event or have their say online.”

A combination of options for managing the land could be considered including cutting and baling heather, thinning scrub and trees, controlled burning of mature heather to reinvigorate it, spraying chemicals or grazing.

Michael Copleston from the RSPB said:

Cannock Chase is an incredibly special place for nature and people, and we are really pleased to hear from local residents and the wider communities that use and live in and around the Chase.

“There is no doubt the landscape inspires thousands of visitors with its combination of open landscapes with beautiful heaths and woodlands that in turn support an array of important wildlife such as the majestic nightjar and secretive adder.

“These drop-in sessions and online opportunities to contribute will be hugely valuable in helping us all to find the best solutions to managing these precious places.”

The project is being funded by Staffordshire County Council, Natural England and the RSPB. The consultation is being designed and led by independent facilitators Dialogue Matters.