FOLLOWING a close examination of Boscombe cliff goats’ area, I have come to the conclusion that that the whole exercise is a complete failure.

I like goats. They are fantastic animals, but they are not conducive to preserving steep, soft sand and gravel cliffs.

Every action taken in the area of the goat cliff seems to be done to promote active erosion of the cliff face; a steep cliff face of soft gravel or sand in equilibrium, facing the sea and at a 45 to 60 degree angle. I have observed the cliff in Boscombe with hill farmers who have kept goats and they said that the steep soft sand slope is the very last place you should keep goats as it will promote serious erosion.

The situation is made worse by the felling of well over 85 mature trees and bushes on the actual slope in order to give the goats more pasture to graze.

Every rule in the book of slope management says that trees and shrubs stabilise cliffs the very best. Large root systems form a solid and continually regenerating deep mat, which turns the face of the cliff into an immovable surface protecting against drought, storm damage, and torrential rain and also providing an extremely valuable area for wildlife and with interesting and varied vegetation flowering throughout the year and providing over 50 species of plant.

Within the British Isles, the bare bleak eroded slopes of Wales, the Lake District and Scotland were produced entirely by felling of the trees which stabilised the slopes.

The goat enclosure, apart from some trees on the top edge, consists of shallow rooted grass with areas of clear erosion and possible soil movement. Apart from goats no wildlife exists (no birds, no insects, no other mammals large or small, no reptiles … no life of any sort). This is in effect an unattractive man-made battlefield plus goats overgrazing the cliff.

The sooner this area is returned to lush, varied vegetation, the better it will be for the cliff and the public purse, although the damage already inflicted on the cliff, I estimate could take 30 years to regenerate as fine mature trees and bushes were irresponsibly felled and killed.

There is no way that council intervention can ever improve on a cliff stabilised by a thick varied covering of shrubs and trees. Any intervention is detrimental to the slope. The goats’ project is an ill-thought-out novelty gone wrong.


Ravine Road, Bournemouth