Hart District Council is working in partnership with the RSPB to reintroduce grazing cattle to the wider Hazeley Heath site, following a successful 5-year grazing trial and consultation period. Secretary of State consent for this project was granted on 11 April 2018. The first phase of works started at the end of April 2021. This project is part-funded by Natural England, developer's contributions and Countryside Stewardship funds.
Conservation grazing plays a key role in maintaining rare habitats like heathland. Amongst many other benefits, grazing is a sustainable way of controlling aggressive species which would otherwise dominate areas through scrub encroachment. Historically, livestock were grazed on the heath by commoners exercising their rights.
The first phase saw the installation of the permanent fencing, which includes multipurpose access gates, shown on the access gate map. This fence line follows the sites boundary beside the busy B3011 and is being installed as a precautionary measure to prevent the cows from getting onto the road.
The cattle have now been introduced and are grazing within the ‘grazing zone’ shown on the grazing zone map. This area will be managed using invisible fencing technology, meaning there will be no permanent fencing structures put up within the site. This technology could also allow for the grazing zone to be further split into compartments, creating a more targeted grazing regime. As cattle will not be freely grazing across the whole site, visitors will have the option to avoid the cows completely, allowing free use of other areas for recreational purposes if preferred. You can find out exactly where the cows are onsite by scanning the QR codes on site posters.