Hastings Country Park Nature Reserve Restoration Project


Fence installing equipment at Hastings Country Park

Throughout northern Europe the number of farm birds has declined dramatically over the last few decades. In Britain birds such as skylark, linnet and tree sparrow have declined so sharply they have been identified as Priorities for Conservation in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.

One of the key methods of restoring populations of these birds is through Government grant schemes such as Countryside Stewardship and the new Entry Level and Higher Level Environmental Stewardship schemes that are replacing Countryside Stewardship.

As part of Hastings Borough Council’s project to restore Hastings Country Park Nature Reserve they have secured a ten year Countryside Stewardship Grant to help manage the farm under sustainable farming, to restore heathland on Warren Glen & Firehills and to maintain healthy populations of farm birds such as skylark, linnet, tree sparrow and bullfinch.


Arable

On the fields that will remain arable wide arable field margins and headlands, beetle banks and wild bird strips have been created.

The arable fields are managed on rotation with spring sown crops, over winter stubble and over summer fallow.


Grazing

Cattle at Hastings Country Park

Light grazing has been established on heathland and cliff-top arable fields have been reverted back to semi-natural grassland.

To enable this to go ahead a large investment has been made in erecting new stock proof fencing throughout the nature reserve.


Heathland Restoration

Due to the greater responsibility of landowners to keep Sites of Special Scientific Interest up to the conservation standard set by Natural England the cliff-top heathland at Warren Glen and Firehills needs to be restored.


Warren Glen

Heathland at Hastings Country Park

At Warren Glen the heath is now grazed to restore acid grassland with patches of heather and gorse and the spread of bracken and the build up of bracken litter is being controlled by scraping.

Over the next few years you should see a reduction in the abundance of bracken and a increase in the abundance of wild flowers such as heath bedstraw, heath speedwell and tormentil.

The wild flowers provide a nectar source throughout the year for the many species of solitary bees that nest in the patches of bare ground and on the cliff face, some of these species are rare and scarce in Britain.


Firehills

On the Firehills bracken is being controlled by hand and gorse scrub will be cut on rotation to provide the ideal nesting and feeding habitat for Dartford warblers, stonechats and linnets.