Scrub on chalk and limestone grassland
Scrub on chalk and limestone grassland is an integral part of the landscape. When well managed, it is thinly spread across open grassland, generally covering up to 5% of an area. When it includes a variety of ages, structures and plenty of edge, it increases biodiversity on grassland. Scrub can be managed on chalk and limestone grassland without compromising other important wildlife, landscape or archaeological features.
Benefits for wildlife
Scrub on chalk and limestone soils generally contains a diverse range of shrubs. This maximises the flowering and fruiting period, ensuring a rich source of food and shelter for wildlife.
A varied range of species, age, structure and distribution of shrubs is important because it provides different habitats. Tall herbs require sheltered scrub edge. Insects benefit from a diversity of age, leafing and flowering periods. Birds like structures ranging from young scattered bushes to mature scrub with a dense canopy.
|Species||Edge||Scattered||Open canopy||Dense canopy|
|Turtle dove||*|| || ||*|
|Bullfinch||*|| || ||*|
|Bloody crane's-bill||*||*|| || |
|Pale St John's wort||*||*|| || |
|Cowslip||*||*|| || |
|Hairy violet|| || ||*|| |
|Duke of Burgundy fritillary||*||*|| || |
|Green hairstreak||*||*|| || |
Natural colonisation of scrub
Scrub naturally colonises new areas. As long as the balance with open grassland is retained, this is beneficial.
- Allow scrub to colonise where there are no threats to archaeological or landscape features. To offset this and maintain the desired balance, remove some older stands.
- Where it is not possible to ‘move’ scrub in this way, use browsing and/or rotational cutting to maintain stands.
Juniper is becoming rare. Where it survives, it is usually as old, single-aged stands. Regeneration from seed is vital to ensure the survival of the stand and diversify its age and structure.
- Juniper seeds require open, disturbed ground in which to germinate. Such areas adjacent to existing juniper offer ideal conditions.
- It is vital to protect seedlings from browsing by rabbits, deer and livestock.
- Selective management is needed to maintain healthy juniper bushes. Juniper is slow-growing and can suffer from crowding and shading by other shrubs.
- Over-grazing is the main cause of poor regeneration. Fence stock into small enclosures for short bursts of light grazing to create the open sward conditions that are ideal for seedling establishment. Monitor the effects and move the enclosures and stock to the next target area as required.
- Where juniper occurs, seek specialist advice