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Arnside, four-legged conservation heroes wanted at popular beauty spot

Visitors reading the information board and topograph at Arnside and Silverdale, Cumbria

THE National Trust is advertising a special job for four-legged conservation heroes at a popular Arnside beauty spot, home to nationally important and rare wildlife.

The conservation charity says about 30 cows and 30 sheep are needed between March to May and August to October to graze approximately 67.5 hectares of land across Arnside Knot and Heathwaite, made up of grassland, scrub, heath and woodland.

National Trust countryside ranger Sam Stalker, credit National Trust

Sam Stalker, a National Trust countryside manager for south east and Morecambe Bay explained what’s special about the area and why cows and sheep are needed:

“This area is home to an array of rare and beautiful wildflowers as well as butterflies and wood ants. It’s popular with walkers and has some incredible views.

“As this is a popular spot the cows and sheep need to be used to people and dogs too, so we are looking for mild mannered animals who are happy to stand and graze as people walk past on footpaths.

“Cows and sheep play a really important role in maintaining the sunny glades and patchwork of habitats that many of the rarer species depend on including vulnerable ones like the Teesdale Violet, Scotch Argus, High Brown Fritillary butterflies as well as the Red Wood Ant.

“Cows help to create space for the less competitive, sensitive plants and allow them to flourish. They create natural planting holes and their munching results in different heights of grass which can attract all kinds of insects and wildlife. Sheep and cows can also prevent scrub such as bramble taking over a whole site.

“’Conservation grazing’ uses animals that are happy to eat tougher, thornier plants and can survive quite happily on hillsides and wilder sites. Cows help at other nearby sites we look after including Jack Scout, Eaves Wood (King William’s Hill) and Sharp’s and Clark’s Lots.

“Livestock grazing can be a sustainable way of looking after important wildlife sites whilst providing a great food product,” added Sam.

Anyone interested in more information about the grazing contract or the on site open afternoon on Tuesday 3 March can contact India Tuer, the Trust’s rural surveyor, at [email protected] or ranger Sam Stalker at [email protected].

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