The next phase of a plan to transform a hill on the outskirts of Dover into a vibrant nature reserve is under way.
Kent Wildlife Trust is reintroducing grazing on Old Park Hill to get the reserve back to prime condition for chalk grassland and this month new stock-proof fencing is being installed around the boundary of the 100-acre site.
Fencing underway at Old Park Hill, Dover. Picture: Kent Wildlife Trust
But East Kent Reserves Officer John McAllister is stressing that access points will be maintained and visitors will continue to enjoy the reserve on foot.
The Port of Dover leased the site to Kent Wildlife Trust in December 2011 in a partnership to restore the site for the benefit and enjoyment of the local Dover community.
Since then, trust staff and a team of local volunteers have been busy cutting back scrub, clearing a network of footpaths, and removing old barbed-wire fencing.
The conservation work is supported by the Port of Dover, the SITA Trust, the Heritage Lottery Fund ‘Up on the Downs’ Project and Natural England.
Much of Old Park Hill consists of ancient semi-natural chalk grassland, which was grazed up until the early 1980s. With the abandonment of grazing much of the site had become overgrown with invasive non-native scrub such as holm oak and sycamore.
“Soon, hardy grazers such as Highland cattle and Konik horses will be a familiar part of the Dover landscape,” said Mr McAllister.
“Their impact, over time, should help see the re-establishment of iconic chalk grassland flora such as fragrant, pyramidal and bee orchids; butterflies such as silver spotted skippers, Adonis blues, green hairstreaks, and so much more.”