Routine spraying is underway on Cannock Chase to stop bracken choking other plants, hindering wildlife and reducing public access.
Specialist contractors will be spraying bracken in the next few weeks in well signposted areas.
The herbicide spray has been used for many years safely on the Chase and at other sites across the country, with no harm to animals, birds, humans and plants other than bracken fern.
Mark Winnington, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet member responsible for Cannock Chase, said:
Left uncontrolled the bracken would dominate other vegetation and that reduces the variety available to sustain the wildlife and also makes it more difficult for dog walkers, ramblers, mountain bikers and the rest.
Controlling the bracken protects the heathland, which is very important for some of the rarest wildlife in the country, including the nightjar and woodlark, reptiles and a variety of insects, including rare butterflies.”
Cannock Chase is a nationally and internationally recognised conservation area and the work has been agreed with the Government’s conservation adviser Natural England and approved by the Environment Agency.
Mark Winnington said:
Over the past decade a lot of hard work has gone in to the operation and we are seeing the positive effect it is having on the site and its wildlife, so we ask the public to take care around the workers.
They will only be active in small areas at any one time and they will all be clearly marked. We thank the public in advance for their understanding while this essential work to protect the Chase and its rare wildlife is happening, especially during the summer holidays.”
Cannock Chase is legally protected because much of it is designated as both a Site of Special Scientific Interest and Special Area of Conservation, within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Around 80 per cent of the UK’s heathland has been lost since 1800, so areas such as Cannock Chase take on an even greater significance as havens for wildlife which rely on that kind of habitat.