The Exmoor Society’s prestigious Samuel Foss Conservation Award has been won this year by Christina Williams, whose family own Molland Moor. Through the drive and determination of Christina, a five-year project called ‘Grazing the Moor’ has been set up with the Molland Estate, the Heather Trust and other partners to monitor the impact of changes to the grazing regime, including the introduction of winter grazing by cattle on the moor. The hope is that, through the experiment, winter grazing will begin a long-awaited fight-back against the explosion of gorse, bracken and Molinia grass that is threatening the moor’s character.
On receiving the Award, Christina said “25 years ago Molland Moor was in good shape with healthy heather growth. Now we are battling with the Molinia grasses and gorse and lack of heather but we are committed to returning the moor to its former glorious state!” Of particular interest in the experiment is the inclusion of a Molinia Control Trial by testing a spray/burn re-seed approach.
“Management of Exmoor’s moorland remains contentious, with concerns over stocking numbers and lack of swaling and winter grazing,” says Rachel Thomas, Chairman of The Exmoor Society. “Traditional hill farming practices in the past 25 years have been severely restricted by Natural England and it is now pleasing to see that it is allowing more flexibility and not just following the regime set for England’s northern moorlands. Christina Williams is to be congratulated in bringing so many people together to find a way ahead for moorland management in this important landscape of Exmoor.”
PHOTO: Baroness Ann Mallalieu, Vice President of The Exmoor Society (left), with award winner Mrs Christina Williams.