There is a need for management of the reserve to check the spread of pernicious growth which can overwhelm insect-attracting flora. The type of weeds on the meadow that we like to have some of, but not too much, are nettles, willow herb, coarse grasses, blackthorn and meadow sweet.
In the fenland, management includes checking the spread of trees, willow herb and sedges - particularly pendulous sedge (Carex pendula). Sedges grow very fast and will overtake preferred rushes and reeds.We also need to make sure that open water is retained to diversify the water habitat.
Maintaining paths, fencing, bridges and the boardwalk are other needs.
Friends of Tuckmill is now looking into conservation activities that have taken place in the past and whether some of these can be re-established. Traditionally stock have grazed the reserve and this is being considered. We are obtaining advice from local farmers, meadow and fenland experts as well as BBOWT who previously leased and managed the reserve and the Vale of White Horse District Council, who own the site.
A dam was built on the fen which holds back water in the old meander so it retains sufficient depth to encourage fenland species. Mechanical digging of the sediment which inevitably builds up in an area that has been dammed took place in the past. The reserve had grazing cattle - the British rare breed Dexter - to successfully enhance the biodiversity. They puddled the ground, creating holes of water which also add to the habitat. In the past there was an excellent bird hide on the meadow and we are currently looking into other ways to enhance opportunities for bird-watching.
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