A PROJECT which has involved using a herd of cattle to restore grasslands and meadows across the Stroud area has been handed an eco-award. 

According to organisers, the scheme has helped create a dynamic and thriving landscape of connected habitats throughout the Stroud Valleys and along the Cotswold escarpment. 

The National Trust's Stroud Landscape Project, which spans more than 50,000 acres, involves using a herd of 100 Belted Galloway cattle known as ‘Belties’. 

The scheme has now won a CPRE Gloucestershire Award, which recognises projects that make an outstanding environmental contribution to the county.

The cows act like natural lawn mowers and are experts at grazing steep slopes and eating grasses that many other animals would find less appealing. 

With their help, delicate plants, and herbs such as marjoram, thyme, vetches and rare orchids are thriving, along with a wide range of wildlife such as Duke of Burgundy butterflies and greater horseshoe bats.

Stroud News and Journal: Belted Galloway cattle at Ebworth near SheepscombeBelted Galloway cattle at Ebworth near Sheepscombe (Image: The National Trust)

At this years’ CPRE Gloucestershire’s Award Ceremony held at the Gambier Parry Hall in Highnam, the herd were recognised for their services to conservation. 

Presenting the award was new CPRE Gloucestershire President, Madeleine Bunting. Madeleine said, “We are delighted to congratulate Stroud Landscape Project Conservation Grazing on receipt of the CPRE Gloucestershire Award in recognition of achievements to protect and increase the biodiversity of limestone grassland sites in the Stroud area, through conservation grazing in partnerships with landowners and the support of local communities and volunteers”. 

Receiving the award on behalf of the Stroud Landscape Project, Matt Watts, senior farm manager said, “Together with our wildflower seed harvesting and sowing operation, we’re seeing amazing results. 

“Biodiversity is improving and nature is starting to recover. In one field alone, the herb:grass ratio increased from 16 per cent to 53 per cent  in just four years. 

“To win a prestigious CPRE Gloucestershire award is fantastic news and a recognition of how conservation grazing can support the restoration and creation of important grassland habitats.” 

Stroud News and Journal: Belted Galloway cattle at Woodchester Park Belted Galloway cattle at Woodchester Park (Image: The National Trust)