For the sixth year running Elmbridge Borough Council is working in partnership with the Surrey Wildlife Trust on a trial goat grazing project on a small area of Esher Commons.
This trial forms part of the Esher Commons SSSI Restoration and Management Plan which began in 2005 to restore 22 hectares of heathland.
In spring, nine male goats were released into a securely fenced area of Esher Commons as a sustainable solution to control the growth of scrubby vegetation and help restore valuable heathland. Heathland is a rare and precious habitat which is under threat from unwanted scrub including pine and birch. Goats can help manage scrub re-growth, enabling it to re-establish, grow and spread. Goats are selective about what they eat. They browse woody plants such as shrubs and trees; stripping the bark and eating the leaves. Their job will be to control the birch, pine, gorse and willow and other scrub that threatens to invade the heathland. This way, they will play their part in restoring the heathland and protecting wildlife.
The goats are a popular sight in this fenced area. They are well cared for and have become a natural addition to the commons. Their enclosure ensures they have enough space to explore and plenty of vegetation to eat. The countryside team receive great support from the public and visitors are doing a fantastic job helping to keep the goats safe and secure.
Cllr Janet Turner, Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Culture, said, “It's great to see the goats grazing on this part of the commons to support this important conservation project. It will contribute to looking after this very special habitat for future generations. It is a positive step towards maintaining Esher Commons’ SSSI status.”
If you are interested in becoming a goat 'looker', i.e. helping to keep an eye on the goats and their fence, or would like more information please contact the Countryside Team on 01372 474582. If you notice an injured or sick goat please contact the Surrey Wildlife Trust grazing team on 07817 769672.
For more information contact the Countryside Team on 01372 474579 or email firstname.lastname@example.org