By Tim Liddiard
A further bracken clearance project involving 30+ vergees of land and including a site near Grève de Lecq has received support from the Countryside Enhancement Scheme (CES) as an integral component of the BIRDS ON THE EDGE project. This compliments work by the National Trust for Jersey further east and is consistent with probable recommended management actions that will be included in the National Park management plan. Maritime heath, cliff and slope are listed as valuable habitats In the Biodiversity Strategy for Jersey (2000).
On behalf of the public of Jersey, the Department of the Environment is responsible for the ecological management of the majority of the north coast from L’Etacq to Grève de Lecq, including Les Landes Site of Special Interest, the headland La Piece Michel and Plémont Headland. Habitat management contractor Aaron Le Couteur, the shepherd (see Grazing), is aware of the potential for introducing grazing to this new site and is involved in planned preparation of this land.
Access to the chosen site is difficult due to the established agricultural land adjacent to the steep slopes. This, however, offers the alternative of tractor access and the use of specialised machinery owned by Aaron Le Couteur. Site visits have been made to identify suitable areas for management where, realistically, the dwarf shrub heath could be restored.
The landowners of fields adjacent to the site have been contacted and permissions have been granted to access the land with tractor mounted machinery. A flail, attached to a winch, will be used to cut the mix of bracken and bramble on the coastal slope in early June. After a period of a month to allow regrowth the newly emerged bracken heads will be rolled in July. The following year, in 2014 (dependent on 2014 CES applications), the area will be cut in June and the following month the fronds will be treated with Glyphosate using specialised equipment purchased by the contractor using CES granted funds in 2012. Using this methodology, it is believed that the success rate of the project will be maximised rather than using the herbicide application in Year 1.
Strict safety measures will be put into place to ensure that the work is carried out in compliance with best practice Health and Safety guidelines including provision of signs informing people that dogs will need to be under control. A strip of uncut bracken and bramble will be left on the lower slopes (closest to the cliff edge) to minimise the likelihood of the public getting too close.
The total budget for this clearance programme is based on £250 per vergee to prepare for herbicide treatment.