It had to be ewe: Sherburn Willows nature reserve has been returned to health by its dedicated team of herbivorous helpers

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Patron: Bill Wiggin, MP

News and Projects that the Trust Has Funded

‘Wooly Mowers’ To The Rescue For Sherburn Willows

The wildflowers of Sherburn Willows have been saved from the threat of invasion by a flock of horned helpers. Yorkshire Wildlife Trust brought in the Hebridean sheep to manage grassland within the reserve and the flock are now free to graze a larger area thanks to new fencing, purchased with a grant from the Kingspan Insulation Community Trust.

Sherburn Willows is a small nature reserve near the Parish of Sherburn in Elmet. It features a rare strip of species rich magnesia limestone grassland which brims with colour throughout the spring and summer months. The local wildlife population includes ox-eye daisy, purple milk vetch and sainfoin.

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust had already purchased the flock to graze one area of the grassland, however, with bramble and other undesirable species slowly taking over the rest of the meadow, it was clear the sheep’s enclosure needed to be expanded.

Following a successful application, the Kingspan Insulation Community Trust provided grant funding of £6,971. The money was used to fund the repair and extension of the pen fencing, including the installation of gates to allow resident access, and the cutting out of the scrub and bramble.

Karen McDiarmid from Yorkshire Wildlife Trust commented:

“Magnesia Limestone grassland is nationally scarce and many of the species of wildflower found within the reserve will only grow on this soil. With the funding, and help of our sheep and local volunteers, we’ve been able to preserve the diverse wildflower population, keeping the meadow a wonderful place for visitors to come and relax. We’ve also held a number of ‘Meet the Sheep’ events, where locals can come and learn about the reserve ‘lawnmowers’ and why they’re so important.”

John Garbutt, Chairman of the Kingspan Insulation Community Trust added:

“It is vital that we preserve and care for the rare populations of wildflower that makes our countryside so special. Encouraging biodiversity is one of the four key aims of the Community Trust and we were delighted to be able to support the excellent work being carried out at Sherburn Willows”.

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