Bepton Down is at last waking up from the winter blues and is showing promising signs of producing more flora and fauna of interest than in 2015. This is due, in part, to a much improved management scheme than in 2014.
Last year (2015) the commercial heifers put in an appearance in August a full month later than in 2014. This meant that they had less time to trash the good stuff whilst totally ignoring the rampant brambles, dog roses, hawthorn, nettles etc which are the bane of the site. In the interim the rubbish had really taken off. Thanks to co-operation with the South Downs National Park the commercial heifers were removed and in September the whole site was sensitively cut thus removing all the woody undesirable vegetation to more or less ground level. The cuttings were then removed which is necessary as rotting vegetation only serves to add nutrients to the soil. Chalk downland species thrive on poor soil.
Later on a flock of Herdwick sheep was introduced courtesy of the National Trust. This breed is a hardy hill sheep used to living off poor, unpalatable vegetation which most commercial breeds of modern sheep will ignore. They spent a few weeks on Bepton Down and after their removal and the earlier cut, the site looked far better than in previous years at the outset of the new year.
It is to be hoped that in 2016 the enlightened and less haphazard management program of 2015 will be repeated. The commercial breeds of dairy cattle are useless and do more damage than good when present in the summer months when pyramidal orchids are still coming out and other species of orchids and flowers have yet to set seed properly. The rubbish has been so invasive in the last few years that a cut at the back end of the season (thanks to the S.D.N.P.) followed by the removal of the vegetation will be imperative and this should again be followed by grazing animals ovine or bovine in sensible numbers which are native and hardy. The Herdwicks would be a welcome sight as would a few Belted Galloways. We would be delighted if these could again be provided courtesy of the National Trust.