Grassland under the microscope

Carrying out a botanical survey to look at trimmed plots on rough grassland
Carrying out a botanical survey to look at trimmed plots on rough grassland

I have recently been carrying out botanical surveys to establish the effect of some strimmed plots in rough grassland.

Management can mean what you want it to of course.

Long grass may host one community of plants while short grass habitat hosts quite another. Neither community is “better” than the other. They are both recognised as valuable habitats in their own right.

Management can be engineered to conserve either community.

Often grazing or strimming of selected areas among tall grasslands will be carried out to add biodiversity by supporting a mosaic of both types of grassland. However, do strimmed areas among long grass encourage the short grass community of wild plants?

Or do they simply consist of dwarfed specimens of those plants which were growing among the long grasses?

The only way to monitor the effect of such plots is to get down on your hands and knees and poke about among the grasss roots to see what is there.

A one-metre square frame is placed on the ground. As many as 20 or so species may be found in that wee square.

Then there is all the measuring and marking to ensure the squares can be re-surveyed in following years.

Of course, any outdoor work appeals to me, but for every hour spent gathering data, there seem to be two hours required to write it all up!

Be that as it may, I will have to get typing as the seasons march on and the summer’s round of butterfly surveys are about to begin!

George Hogg, Hogg Estate Services, Wildlife Management