Monday, 29 April 2013

Rewilding at Knepp Castle Estate

On Sunday I attended a dig and three club members found Roman coins, but all I could manage was a  musket ball. I then joined the Sussex Butterfly Conservation social at Knepp Castle Estate. Estate owner Charlie Burrell told us about the Rewilding Project that has been running for 10 years. This fascinating experiment involves changing the land use from intensive arable farming to natural plant growth. Animals are introduced to attempt to replicate the grazing system which existed at the end of the Pleistocene epoch 11,700 years ago. We had a tour of part of the estate and Charlie Burrell explained  what is happening in the project, which should last at least 25 years. Part of the River Adur, which flows through the estate, is being returned to a natural flood plain. The grazing animals introduced include Exmoor ponies, Longhorn cattle, Roe deer which were already present within the deer fence, plus Fallow deer, Red deer and Tamworth pigs. The idea is that these animals look after themselves, establishing their own herd structure and breeding system. Similarly, the plants look after themselves without interference or management:
Foxy in the dig field
Knepp Castle Estate:
Exmoor Ponies

Fallow Deer, Dama dama
Charlie Burrell gives us a talk during the tour
me and Tamworth pig by Dan Danahar

me and Tamworth pig by Susie Millbank
Tamworth Piglets, Sus scrofa domesticus

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