Malvern's Worcestershire Wildlife Trust members given an insight into the history of the hills - The Malvern Observer
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9th Aug, 2022

Malvern's Worcestershire Wildlife Trust members given an insight into the history of the hills

MEMBERS of the Malvern Local Group of the Worcestershire Wildlife Trust held their latest meeting earlier this month.

Duncan Bridges, the CEO of the Malvern Hills Trust, gave a talk at the get-together on February 3 .

He said an element of friction between users of the Malverns was nothing new.

These days there were issues between cyclists and walkers, but in the late 19th Century, donkeys sometimes made passing on the narrow paths difficult and there were complaints of donkey boys racing their charges down the sloping paths – much to the annoyance of walkers.

Victorian photographs, however, showed that a lot of other aspects had changed – back then the hills were almost bare of trees through intensive grazing. Quarrying also changing their shape.

Since 1884, the hills have been managed by The Conservators, now the Malvern Hills Trust, and woodland flourishes, and quarrying is long since ended.

The Hills and Commons represent an incredibly varied landscape and ecology, and members learnt much about the complexities of managing such a treasured asset.

Of particular value is the naturally occurring acid grassland, home to many species of flowers, birds, snakes and lizards.

A national survey in the 1980s showed 97 per cent of England’s natural grassland had been lost in the previous 50 years and the decline is continuing.

The grassland on the Hills and Commons is managed by The Trust through a mixture of judicious scrub clearance and tree felling and grazing with sheep and cattle.

The livestock is looked after by local farmers, but members were reminded that ‘Commoner’s Rights still exist’, allowing certain local residents to turn their livestock onto the Commons.

That was a much-valued help with the household budget 100 years ago.

The next meeting of the group is at 7.30pm on March 3 at The Lyttelton Rooms, Church Street, Malvern.

Stuart Brown will give a presentation entitled ‘A Bird in the Hand’. Members will be enlightened on how local bird ringing helps international studies.

Admission is £2.50 and everyone is welcome.

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