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Icart field’s bluebells bloom once more

News | Published:

A NEW footpath at Icart car park will be opening today, in time for the Easter weekend.

Pic by Adrian Miller 17-04-19 .Icart habitat restoration project St Martin's..Field full of Bluebells.L>R Jamie Hooper Environment Guernsey Ltd MD, Julia Henney manager at La Societe Guernesiaise conservation herd and Lisa Duggen environment services officer States of Guerney ... (24441137)

The new circular pathway, which runs alongside an Icart field, will allow those visiting the area to admire the flora and fauna, which will be attracted to the habitat restoration project.

Bracken and scrub were cleared last year in order to kick-start the habitat regeneration project, and now the area is covered in bluebells.

There is no public access allowed in the field in order to allow the habitat to flourish, and walkers are asked not to allow their dogs to enter the field.

Trampling in the field would damage the flora and increase the likelihood of the spread of invasive species such as stinking onions (Allium triquetrum, the three-cornered leek).

Agriculture, Countryside and Land Management Services Environment Services Officer Lisa Duggan said the project was going well. ‘It is very pleasing to see that in such a short space of time since the clearance of some scrub and bracken last year, that the habitat is already beginning to regenerate,’ she said.

‘It is anticipated that the existing seedbank and soil structure will accelerate the restoration of the site, coupled with the reintroduction of grazing to the area.

She said it was important for people to respect the area and admire it from a distance.

‘We have seen the damage being caused at Bluebell Woods by people trampling over the bluebells, often to take a perfect photo amongst the flowers,’ she said.

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‘Native bluebells are very sensitive to trampling and can easily be out-competed by stinking onions and non-native Spanish bluebells, so it is always important to keep to the paths in any area where bluebells are present, otherwise we risk losing them.’

The habitat restoration project aims to restore the States-owned land at Icart field to a locally rare dry grassland habitat, which will support a wide range of plants, insects and birds.

Icart headland has pockets of coastal heathland habitat, which may also establish at the Icart field.

This is of international importance, as it is among the scarcest habitats found in Guernsey. Its enhancement through this project will greatly improve the biodiversity and special nature of this area over time.

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The project is supported by La Societe Guernesiaise and the RSPB, and the field will be grazed each autumn by La Societe Guernesiaise’s Conservation Herd of Guernsey steers.

La Societe herd manager Julia Henney: ‘Icart field was once a species-rich coastal grassland but, when grazing ceased on the site almost a century ago, the grassland was quickly lost to bracken and scrub.

‘This restoration project offers us the opportunity to re-introduce grazing to the site, which will help return the area to a wildflower rich grassland.’

More than 700 new tree and shrub species have been planted around the perimeter of the site.

Juliet Pouteaux

By Juliet Pouteaux
News reporter

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