Culm grasslands are internationally important - they are home to some of the nation’s most threatened wildlife, such as the marsh fritillary butterfly and the narrow-bordered bee hawk-moth.
Culm serves other important functions like reducing pollution in watercourses by acting as a buffer from more intensive agriculture upstream. The impacts of unseasonably high rainfall are reduced as the land acts like a sponge, absorbing high levels of rainfall and then slowly releasing the water during periods of drought.
One of the main threats to Culm wildlife is habitat fragmentation. Sites are often very small and widely spaced, which leaves species requiring Culm for their survival in a precarious position. Find out more about Culm grassland
Culm grassland decline
There have been huge losses of Culm grassland in the last hundred years. Over 50% was lost during the late 1980s and early 1990s due to the effects of poorly targeted farm subsidy which indirectly encouraged farmers to plough these grasslands to plant crops. Only 10% of the resource present in 1900 still survives.
Dunsdon Farm Culm Restoration Management Plan
Dunsdon Farm is located in the Torridge and Tamar Working Wetlands priority area. This has been identified due to the quantity and quality of wildlife-rich habitats present. The Working Wetlands project aims to restore these important sites into good environmental condition and strategically reconnect habitats so that they can support rare and threatened wildlife into the future. Management of these habitats will also have a positive impact on water quality and also reduce flood risk downstream.
The management plan focuses on the delivery of a Natural England special project involving an area of semi-improved rush pasture at Dunsdon Farm. The management plan applies to the soil stripping, shallow ploughing and sowing with a wildflower rich seed mix at Dunsdon Farm, and subsequent site works to enable restoration to species-rich grassland. This project aims to restore the semi-improved grassland to species-rich grassland and restore the network of small fields through hedgebank creation and hedge planting.
As part of a government scheme Dunsdon Farm can invite school parties studying farming as a part of the National Curriculum for educational purposes Environmental Stewardship & Countryside Stewardship Educational Access