Rush Pasture Conservation:
Rush Pasture sites in Barnsley are small, localised and fragmented. Locally Rush Pasture is important especially for the nesting and foraging waders such as Curlew, Lapwing and Snipe.
Causes of loss and decline of Rush Pasture for wildlife
Where rush pasture exists within SCA /SPA or SSSI designated areas and is included in their designation, it has legal protection, a presumption against change of use and support for its conservation.
Sites identified as Local Wildlife Sites have a presumption against planning permission for development or change of use.
However they have no protection against operations that do not require planning permission or change of use authorisation.
Agricultural work where protected species are present may commit offences under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981.
Protected species include all breeding birds including in this context waders. Licences may be needed from Natural England.
Buglife: Managing rush pasture habitat
Good management practice:
Natural England Guidance advocates an average grass height of 7 and 8cm for rush during April and May, increasing to 10 and 13cm in June to October, a quarter of the sward no more than 15cm for grass and 40cm for rushes - a diverse sward of shorter areas interspersed by taller tussocks. Areas of dense litter should be less than 25% of the total area in October.
Rush Pasture BAP priority habitat in favourable condition is denoted by:
≥ two frequent and two occasional Rush Pasture indicator species
< 10% undesirable species eg dock, nettle, thistle, ragwort, cow parsley, …
< 5% invasive trees and shrubs
< 50% non-jointed rush cover
< 30% cover of large sedge species and < 20% cover of reeds and large grasses
For breeding waders
0% scrub cover
< 40% cover of rushes and on the remainder from 5% to 60% tussocks of grass or sedge
From 5 to 15 cm sward height in April & May
From Farm Environment Plan guidance