The water meadows that sit between the Railway Land Local Nature Reserve and the River Ouse have been grazed by cattle for many years. They are an unusual habitat, and the ditches in particular contain a rich diversity of species. The landowners of the meadows, (RLWT, Lewes District Council, Harvey’s Brewery and the Volpe Trust) have worked together to devise a more conservation focused approach to grazing the meadows. This entails the grazing being more closely controlled and monitored, with the aim of increasing the diversity of flora in the meadows, which will in turn support greater biodiversity in the ditches. The impact of different grazing regimes the agricultural quality and value of the land will also be monitored.
Alongside this, RLWT and Lewes District Council run a small conservation trial looking at the ecological impacts of different scything regimes combined with Autumn grazing.
In order to monitor the impacts of this approach and to maintain the health and welfare of the cattle, a small team of volunteer cattle lookerers visit the water meadows and monitor the cattle - checking how the cattle are impacting the site ecologically, where they are grazing, what they are grazing as well as keeping an eye on the health and welfare of the cattle and how they are impacted by the public access.