We've been a bit quiet of late on updates from Talla and Gameshope and had a few requests for information from people asking about our plans and what we hope to do there.
After we acquired the site in 2013 we commissioned a full site survey to be undertaken by Stuart Adair. Stuart has surveyed both our other sites at Corehead and Carrifran and is very familiar with the area and a great botanist. We also set up an ecology group which, together, would explore and discuss options that would feed into an eventual management plan for the site.
The overriding decisions that were taken very early on were that
(i) we'd remove the grazing and
(ii) we wouldn't rush into anything
Since then we've done just that. We've been watching and looking at how the site has responded since the sheep were taken off (a few have since broken back in but they have been served their eviction notice!) and have had a number of meetings and site visits involving many different people who are all feeding in thoughts and ideas to a management plan.
|A few rogue sheep escaped back in!
Following our 2 major early decisions, one large scale project did immediately come to mind. The fencing is, in some places, in a poor condition with a 3km gap along our boundary with Grey Mares Tail. Therefore, before we even thinking about the possibility of planting, we had to take action to make the site stock proof. In some areas this is done by volunteers and we have recently had a contractor complete the missing 3km.
|Out moving fencing materials for the volunteers with contractor Keith
The fencing is also important to keep stock off areas we are looking to do peat works. We recently had a visit from Emily Taylor from Peatland Action who will hopefully be able to support us with more money for restoration in areas of exposed peat. This will be similar to the work we did at Little Firthhope but it is only effective if there are no sheep around.
|Surveying with Emily Taylor from Peatland Action
|We hope to do some more peatland restoration work in here
Overall our thinking is that ecologically, we are looking at all our sites on a landscape scale. With T&G bordering Carrifran and Corehead just a few hill tops away this makes sense. The plan is to use our knowledge and experience from these sites to feed in to what happens at T&G and take our time to make sure we get things right.