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Grazing, it's amazing!

grazing its amazing logo

​For centuries Burnham Beeches was grazed by livestock.  The animals were allowed to roam in a landscape that was characterised by open woodland known as wood pasture.  The trees were mostly pollards which were cut for firewood; the wide spacing of the trees allowed light through to the pasture beneath and resulted in a habitat which was rich in wildlife.  When grazing and pollarding stopped about 100 years ago, scrub and young woodland began to grow so much of the previously open pasture and heath started to disappear.  The old pollards were left to compete for light and space with the younger trees and consequently many began to die.

British white cattle grazing at Burnham Beeches

​The livestock help to maintain the open landscape

Bringing back the livestock​

Over the past 20 years the team at the Beeches has been working to restore and conserve the different habitats and have been at the forefront of discovering new techniques for managing veteran pollards.  We have re-introduced grazing animals to some parts of the Beeches which are helping to keep the habitats open – making it better for people and wildlife.
The benefits of using grazing animals, the challenges they pose and the proposals for expanding the area grazed are all explained in our leaflet Restoring the pastoral landscape of Burnham Beeches (819kb) and our Grazing Restoration Project fact sheet (317kb).



Pony drinking in middle pond

​One of our Exmoor ponies taking a drink in the pond

Details about the grazing expansion project, using 'fenceless fences', the livestock that we use, frequently asked questions and a number of supporting documents and information leaflets are available on our grazing lowdown page.

Help us with the grazing project by:

  • reporting any damage to fences or gates
  • keeping your dog under effective control
  • not approaching or feeding the livestock
  • respecting any dead hedges or barriers
26 April 2012
Last Modified:
29 September 2017