R4C is the lifetime evaluator for this conservation grazing project with Surrey Wildlife Trust, funded by the Green Recovery Challenge Fund. Conservation grazing delivers a wide range of sustainable habitat benefits. The project will secure the Belted Galloway cattle as ‘bio-engineers’ on Surrey’s unique heathland habitats, providing valuable conservation grazing services to protected habitat sites. We are providing expert advice and support and also some additional independent evaluation activity to ensure and robust evaluation which meets the funder’s needs.
Grazing is vital to the preservation of Surrey’s unique heathlands, chalk grasslands, river meadows and wood pastures. Conserving these areas provides habitat for a range of flora and fauna that would otherwise be lost (as much already has been). The approach also has other benefits e.g., in preserving lowland bogs, capturing carbon, and helping to maintain floodplain meadows. As SWT say, ‘grazing is the most successful, natural tool to re-establish biodiversity’.
The focus of the ‘Sure Footed’ project is to deliver conservation grazing at 28 protected habitat sites over 356 hectares. It will also recruit 50 volunteer livestock checkers, training others in conservation grazing and use GPS tracking technology with the livestock. The project is funded through the Green Recovery Challenge Fund, reflecting the impact of Covid-19. These impacts could have lead to the sale of 130 Belted Galloway cattle, potentially interrupting the work for years and disrupting the benefits this delivers.
The project requires a proportionate and efficient evaluation to help Surrey Wildlife Trust and other project partners to discover and share the learning which comes from the project. You can read more about the work of the Trust here.