By James Power
Head of Land Management
The Trust has secured permission from the Planning Inspectorate to fence Iping Common. Once erected, this will enable us to reinstate grazing on the nature reserve many decades after the last commoner gave up farming. Grazing will significantly improve the condition of the site to the benefit of many of the rare and threatened plants, birds and invertebrates. Cattle grazing will break up dense patches of purple moor grass and gently poach the soil surface, creating optimum conditions for some of the very rare plants and insects found here.
These include marsh club-moss, a rare plant found in patches of very wet, bare soil on heathlands. This species recently re-appeared at Stedham Common discovered in an area where the soil surface had been broken up by our cattle – in time, we fully expect cattle grazing on Iping Common to create identical conditions, enabling it to recolonise this nature reserve too.
Regrettably, the restoration of grazing will be too late to maintain the field cricket population which seems to have died out again. This is one species that would directly benefit from grazing and we will consider re-introducing this rare insect once grazing is underway.
The design of the fence and the location and design of the gates has been developed in close consultation with a large number of local people and local organisations and will ensure that people will still be able to enjoy this fabulous nature reserve.