Sheep grazing and the management of chalk grassland
A unique investigation at the chalkdownland National Nature Reserve Aston Rowant (SU 727972) could help to illuminate best practice in management for other reserves in southern Britain. The study, which was partly repeated after 45 years, considered the effects of sheep grazing regimes in order to explain ecological differences brought about by variations within livestock densities and seasonal movements.
The Aston Rowant reserve is situated at the borders of Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, on the western scarp of the Chiltern Hills AONB, and conserves chalk grassland, scrub and, notably, Juniper Juniperus communis and Beech Fagus sylvatica woodland. Declared in 1958, the reserve was centred on Beacon Hill and covered about 28 hectares. Today, it encompasses 159 hectares.