Langford Heathfield, Somerset

Langford Heathfield is a 226 acre nature reserve and a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) containing diverse semi-natural habitats. Much of the reserve is common land and hasn’t been reclaimed or improved for agriculture, meaning that many important species of wildlife have been able to survive here.

Managed by the Somerset Wildlife Trust, the reserve's heathland scrub, ancient oak and ash woodland includes wet and dry grassland, bracken and scrub. Shetland ponies are used to keep the scrub and coarse grass under control as the ponies thrive on the rough grassland diet. An award of £4,300 from Viridor Credits, through environmental body Uffculme Environmental Ltd, helped the Trust to restore and extend the species-rich grassland habitat by improving pony grazing areas.

By keeping the grass areas grazed, uncommon species of flowers are able to burst through, including the heath spotted orchid, pale dog violet and purple moor grass. The award also allowed the Trust to clear away scrub from grazing blocks, allowing more sunlight to fall onto the grassland. In addition, an interpretation panel was installed to explain the importance of the reserve and the work that had taken place. From here, visitors can view the sights and sounds of many birds including tree pipits, which nest in the grassland edges.

Lesser spotted woodpecker, wood warbler, redstart and pied flycatcher breed in the woodland and nightingale can be heard calling for mates in the early summer. Alongside the birds, the nature reserve is also home to butterflies, including the small pearlbordered fritillary and green hairstreak, along with many moths. Threatened dormice have a safe refuge in the woodland, where badger setts can also be seen.

"This project has made a major impact by improving the grassland habitat of this important SSSI, upgrading access for the public to the nature reserve and protecting important Biodiveristy Action Plan habitats and species." David Northcote-Wright, Somerset Wildlife Trust Reserves Officer

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