There was a good deal of interest in the the work being carried out on the Common at the WCLC Open day, held on October 20th in the village hall. About a dozen people had questions and comments; all very positive. I was particularly interested in people's views on the question of whether or not livestock could be introduced onto the Common as a means of controlling the growth of scrub and grasses - this would be Natural England's preferred method, and the most environmentally friendly, but not the cheapest.
Manual methods such as spraying, cutting and uprooting are failing at the moment to reduce the silver birch seedlings to an acceptable level: as natural browsers, sheep or ponies may be more effective. Sheep helped form the landscape that we are trying to recreate today. On the other hand, our agreement with Natural England still has 5 years to run and we can achieve a lot by using a combination of manual, chemical and mechanical methods.
Any livestock would have to be properly fenced in to prevent straying but gates would be sited at every entry-point so we would all still be able to walk it as we do now. It would be like Dunwich Forest. However, the Scheme under which the Charity operates forbids permanent fencing.
The whole point of setting up the Charity, 110 years ago was to protect the Common from ever being fenced in, so that it would always belong to the Villagers and always be accessible to them. They had rights to 'harvest' the Common, graze their geese etc.