Cherry Orchard, Diglis
Future management should be aimed at maintaining and enhancing the range of habitats found here – preventing further succession of scrub and brambles to the detriment of the valuable grassland community. It would be preferable to increase the current area of open grassland, whilst maintaining a mosaic of habitats. This will provide the best opportunity for the site to continue to
support a good range of species of fauna and ﬂora.
The following management suggestions outline opportunities to achieve the desired outcome.
Playing ﬁeld area
The primary management objective of this area is as a recreation ground. However, this need not preclude wildlife. The shrubs and rough vegetation along the boundary with Diglis Lane and trees near the north and west boundaries provide food and shelter for a variety of fauna; these should be
retained. It would be possible to improve this by planting with more shrubs providing berries and nectar, such as buddleia (Buddleia davidii), blackthorn (Prunus spinosa), guelder rose (Viburnum opulus) and elder (Sambucus nigra). Wherever possible, these should be of local provenance.
Rough grass and scrub area
A diverse plant community tends to support a more diverse invertebrate community. Various features such as anthills also provide niches for certain species of invertebrate. To maintain the wildlife interest of the site, therefore, it is important to manage the grassland to promote a rich plant community. This requires management to prevent excessive growth of vigorous, competitive
species or scrubbing up of the site. The most suitable form of grassland management on this site is cutting with debris removed; a rotational system whereby some areas are cut regularly whilst others only every few years would promote a more structurally diverse habitat. This will also benefit anthills within the grassland, which are at present becoming smothered. This management could also include the widening of some of the existing pathways that criss-cross the site.
Scrub provides resources for both invertebrates and vertebrates through nectar, dead wood and berries. As mentioned above, the interface between scrub and grassland can also be an important feature. A diversity of age and structure within the scrub provides niches for a wider variety of associated invertebrates. Scrub on this site is currently fairly young and it is suggested that some areas and some individual scattered shrubs be allowed to reach maturity. It is also suggested that areas of scrub and, particularly, bramble thickets be cleared. This should be carried out in phases.
Areas that are cleared each year should be maintained regularly, ensuring that bramble and other invasive vegetation does not colonise these new habitats. Cutting scallops into thickets will increase the interface between different habitats.
This is a rather sensitive habitat that appears, unlike other parts of the site, to have suffered from the levels of recreational use. Regarding plant life, there is currently little of interest, although a ﬁrst record for the fungus Leucoagaricus serenus was made here and the open, sandy soil also can provide habitat for specialist invertebrates such as solitary bees and hunting wasps.
This area has potential for higher wildlife value, but this could be difﬁcult to promote under the current levels of use on the site. It may be possible to create exclosures by fencing off part of this area; if notices are put up explaining why the fences are there, this may or may not reduce interference. If it is decided that creating exclosures will not work on the site, it may be best just to
accept that this area will not be able to meet its wildlife potential.