Over the past couple of years I have walked small areas of his holdings and, by and large, ecological conditions are not ones which encourage wildlife. To be fair, Matt knows this and explains why he plans to introduce a more benign system of management.
The problem is, in one word, sheep. With slopes varying from the gentle to the very steep arable crops could be tricky so, from a farmer's point of view, sheep seem a reasonable option. The hills between Daventry and the Oxfordshire border and, of course, through the Cotswolds, support huge flocks, mainly raised for their meat.
These landscapes are much admired; the rolling contours of the hills are clear to see, a consequence of the constant nibbling of the sheep. There are woodlands and, where sheep are kept out, scrub develops and, given time, yet more woodlands would become established. Matt has fenced off some areas of woodland and a good range of trees is present but any seedlings which attempt to grow outside the fence are soon nibbled off by hungry mouths.
Farmers like Matt are in a tricky position: as I say, sheep farming is probably the best option on this land and yet, without generous C.A.P. subsidies the industry would surely collapse.
Tree trunks had up to about 80% lichen coverage. Near Daventry.
10 January, 2018
|The number of lichen species present was rather limited.|