A HERD of cattle will demonstrate their green-hoofed potential in encouraging the growth of wildflowers in an area popular with walkers and visitors.
The cows will be introduced to an area of riverside meadow in Hudswell Woods, Roundhow, in Richmond, to help restore the grassland to its wildflower-rich glory.
As part of a project to restore meadows around Richmond, insect conservation charity Buglife and other environment projects have teamed up with the National Trust and a local farmer to make Hudswell Woods meadows a haven for bees and insects.
Hudswell Woods was once home to roughly 10 hectares of wildflower grassland within the woodland, but an absence of grazing has left rank grass, resulting in flowering plants being crowded out and failing to flourish.
Work undertaken so far has focused on removing the unwanted rank grass and preparing the ground for wildflower seeds and plugs.
Species of wildflower which have been specially chosen include yellow rattle, wood cranesbill, betony, lady’s bedstraw and great burnet.
Peter Welsh, ecologist and wildlife engagement officer for the National Trust, said: “We’ve done a lot of the ground work and so the next step is to bring cattle onto the site in order for them to do their magic.
“Grazing is a natural process and cattle are known for being very effective in sustaining healthy and rich wildflower meadows thanks to the way they graze and disturb the ground with their feet.
“The National Trust and its partners hope to restore the flowers to the area - not just to look pretty, but as a really important part of the ecology of the area.
“The reintroduction of flowers to the area will encourage for insects, such as bees, which in turn will encourage birds and other species to inhabit the area.
The cattle will be seen on site during two periods of grazing, from after Easter (late April) to mid-July and again from early September to the end of October.
Mr Welsh added: “We know the area is very popular for walkers, and dog walkers, so we ask that they be aware of the presence of the cattle and, in following the countryside code, give them a wide berth if at all concerned, keeping dogs under control to avoid agitation whilst the cows settle into their new surroundings.”