PLANS to introduce cattle to graze on a Bournemouth nature reserve go on show on Thursday.

The council is proposing to introduce cattle each summer and autumn to grassland at Stour Valley Local Nature Reserve.

Countryside bosses say it will improve the quality of the habitat there.

Stuart Clarke, conservation and countryside manager, said: “We are currently asking people to have their say on proposals to introduce grazing management to the majority of grassland at Stour Valley Local Nature Reserve.

“Cattle grazing is a sustainable way of managing grassland and will help to retain and improve the wildlife diversity. Grazing schemes on other nature reserves have been successful in terms of both the habitat management and the reaction of local residents.

“The decision on whether to go ahead with these proposals will be based on the response from the public consultation.”

The plans go on show tomorrow at Stour Acres, Granby Road, Muscliffe, from 3-8pm.

The council currently cuts the grass with machinery and says that it will continue to do so in some areas for hay, but grazing would produce more varied vegetation height and structure, it says, benefiting more plants and animals.

It wants to produce “wildflower-rich meadows buzzing with insects and bounded by thick hedgerows where farmland birds can nest”.

Introducing cattle would require fencing and new hedges, but the council said it would not restrict access.

Costs would be met by Natural England and the Dorset Urban Heaths Grazing Partnership.

Less than 10 cattle – Shetland cows like those already used on Kinson and Turbary commons and Canford Heath – would be on site at any one time.

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