More than 300 people, organisations and groups have had their say on how best to look after Cannock Chase’s natural habitats.
Individuals, parish councils and wildlife charities are among those who’ve responded to proposals on how best to manage the land.
Initial engagement with those who use the Chase found support for current methods, including cutting heather and thinning trees, spraying and using controlled burning and also suggested exploring the use of a small herd of cattle to help manage the land naturally. This latest consultation, which has just finished, focused on how this might work.
Grazing already takes place at many sites across the country, including Chasewater and Hednesford Hills, and on National Park land at the New Forest and the Peak District, and was common at Cannock Chase until it stopped during the First World War.
Mark Winnington, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet member responsible for the consultation, said:
Cannock Chase is a special place for all of us, but it needs constant management to prevent it becoming overgrown with bracken, bramble and scrubland.
I’m pleased so many people have responded, but I’m not surprised because people are passionate about the Chase and its future.”
Responses from online surveys, letters and public events will now be pulled together and form the basis for discussions in the autumn which will be attended by parish councils and community organisations, recreational groups, local businesses and wildlife and heritage bodies.
Mark Winnington added:
This is very much a consultation and I’ve heard a range of opinions already and I’m confident that we’ll be able to find a way forward that manages the Chase for everyone’s benefit and enjoyment.”
Staffordshire County Council, RSPB and Natural England are working together to explore the future management of open habitats on Cannock Chase, as the county council looks to renew its management agreement next year and the RSPB plans to take forward the management of the Bevin’s Birches area.
Michael Copleston, regional development manager for the RSPB, said
Cannock Chase is a stunning landscape with precious wildlife and history, and is clearly loved and cared for by many with over two million visitors every year. It’s so valuable to hear and learn about what people care about most, and finding the best path for the future care and important management of this special place is hugely helped by consultations like this.”