Report D014 ***

Problem: Ragwort in 700 acres of parkland grazed by deer
Where: Knowle Park, Kent
When: May 2003
Status: SSSI / Countryside Stewardship
Area: App. 160 hectares
Detail: Inspection only. Some areas contain over 200 Ragwort plants per 25 sq. metres Many seedlings appearing on turf covered anthills. Site overgrazed by deer. 50 acres around house are pulled annually by the National Trust volunteers. This has worked

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This was a site inspection, alongside officers from English Nature. There were countless seedling plants appearing, on ant-hills & areas of flat, in semi-wooded parkland, over-grazed all the year round by numerous small deer.

We made a count of rosettes in badly infested 25 sq metre area, and found over 200 plants. Added to the fact that many seedlings were sprouting on grassy anthills (protected by biologists & ecologists), this high count made rosette extraction by a L-D workforce seem too expensive, too long-term. The seedlings on the anthills would need pricking out, using a small tool.

This decision not to extract plants individually was made despite the fact that the National Trust had been annually pulling a 50 acre area immediately surrounding Knowle House, and had succeeded in getting very good control. There was an unmistakeable line where annual pulling stopped (where National Trust responsibility ended).

Suggestions that fencing after clearances of modest but badly affected areas, to be increased year on year, didn’t seem acceptable to E.N. They wanted to try chemical & weed-wiping.
(Contact: Anna Gundry, English Nature).