Woodland grazing toolbox

Woodland grazing toolbox

5. Constraints

There will be issues, in addition to the condition of your woodland and its biodiversity and cultural heritage features, that will influence your grazing plan. It would be useful to consider these under the following themes:

  • Grazing tenure
  • Availability of monitoring personnel
  • Obligations
  • Wild herbivore management
  • Obstacles to stock movement
  • Incompatible biodiversity objectives
  • Other constraints

Grazing Tenure

The grazier must be able to keep to the provisions of the grazing plan, otherwise it cannot be monitored effectively and may not work. Once the plan has been initiated, woodland condition should begin to change and the plan may need to be revised in response to this change. The grazier will need to have the flexibility to respond to these revisions.

This requires commitment from the grazier and, if the woodland manager and the grazier are not the same person, it requires effective communication between the two.

In section 5 of the Woodland Grazing Plan say who will undertake the grazing (i.e. woodland owner or manager, tenant farmer or someone else) and supply any other grazing tenure information you think might be relevant.

Availability of monitoring personnel

Tracking the effect of your grazing plan is key to its success.

Monitoring involves three separate but connected stages:

  1. Setting up the monitoring programme. This requires an in-depth familiarity with the objectives of the scheme.
  2. Ongoing monitoring. This may require less expertise than the establishment phase but regular visits require more commitment in terms of time over the life of the scheme.
  3. Assessing the results of the monitoring and adjusting the grazing regime as appropriate. As for setting up the monitoring programme, this requires a familiarity with the objectives of the scheme.

It is highly desirable that the grazier is involved in as much of this process as possible, though constraints of time or inclination may prevent the grazier from getting deeply involved.

It is important that from the beginning it is clear who will do what. You may want to involve a woodland or ecological surveyor in the establishment phase, especially if one of your objectives is management for a scarce species with specific habitat requirements. Ideally, subsequent monitoring will be done by the grazier and/or the woodland manager.

In section 5 of the Woodland Grazing Plan, say who will undertake the three phases of monitoring, i.e. will it be the woodland owner or manager, the grazier or a contract surveyor?

Obligations

There may be legal constraints on grazing certain areas of woodland. These could include active management agreements under old forestry or agro-environmental schemes or under current grant schemes.

You may have areas where certain woodland objectives cannot be applied, e.g. natural regeneration within power-line wayleaves.

Note any prior obligations that may affect the scope of a grazing plan in section 5 of your Woodland Grazing Plan.

Wild herbivore management

Wild herbivore management is a key issue when determining a Grazing Management Plan. The impact of herbivores on woodland condition will be a combination of the impacts of grazing and browsing by livestock and wild herbivores.

To establish a grazing plan that meets your woodland management objectives you will need to know what impact wild herbivores are having on your woodland. This is particularly important when woodland regeneration is one of your management objectives. In this case it is possible that effective wild herbivore control may achieve your objectives better than woodland grazing.

In section 5 of your Grazing Management Plan, summarise the main points from your deer management plan if you have one. If you do not, indicate the current level of impact from deer browsing and indicate how deer numbers will be monitored and managed. State how other wild herbivores will be managed, if relevant.

Obstacles to stock movement

Stock may not have free access to the whole of your woodland. Obstacles to stock movement may be natural, such as ravines and crags, or man-made, such as fences, roads and railways.

In section 5 of the Woodland Grazing Plan outline any features in your woodland that may prevent free movement of stock.

Incompatible biodiversity objectives

If any of your objectives are incompatible, explain in section 5 of your woodland grazing plan how you are going to accommodate this.

Other constraints

This is a catch-all section for all the constraints that may apply to your woodland that have not been covered already.

These constraints could include:

  • Livestock welfare issues such as access to water or hazardous ground conditions, such as cliffs or bogs.
  • Limited vehicular access to the wood for winter feeding or for stock movement on and off the site.
  • Obstacles to new stock fencing, such as archaeological features or major rock outcrops.

Describe these constraints in section 5 of your Woodland Grazing Plan.