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Shoal Hill TreeShoal Hill Common lies within the Cannock Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), and comprises 73 Hectares of Lowland Heath and Woodland.  It lies on the B5012 between Cannock and Penkridge and can be accessed from the car parks on Cocksparrow Lane and adjacent to the Shoal Hill Tavern on Sandy Lane.  The area is managed by the Shoal Hill Common Joint Committee and in 1991, the Joint Committee embarked on a 10 year Countryside Stewardship Scheme to restore the declining heathland by instigating a programme of bracken, tree and scrub control and heather rejuvenation by rotational cutting.  In 2001 the Joint Committee secured a further 10 year Stewardship Agreement with DEFRA to continue the restoration works.

 

Shoal Hill PoolOne of the earliest reliable maps of the Staffordshire landscape was that produced by William Yates in 1775.  This map enabled the major land uses within the country to be distinguished for the first time, and it clearly illustrated the distinction between cultivated land, ‘wasteland’, forest, woodland and parkland.  Heathland and moorland comprised the major part of the non-cultivated area, being described as ‘wasteland’ only in that they were uncultivated and usually, parcels of Manorial ‘waste’ from Mediaeval times.  Much of our remaining heathland today is registered as common land reflecting it’s traditional use by local people or ‘commoners’.

 

Lowland heathland such as that found on Shoal Hill Common is a distinctive landscape and valuable wildlife habitat, which is in serious decline.  It is confined largely to Britain and coastal Europe.  Staffordshire is today one of the major heathland owning counties in England, along with those in the south and east of the country.

 

Shoal Hill HeathlandAlthough the number of plant and animal species found on heathlands is typically restricted, those that are found are often largely or entirely confined to heathlands and many are becoming increasingly uncommon.  Stonechats, Skylarks, common lizards, grasshoppers and butterflies such as the Small Heath and Green Hairstreak, can all be found on Shoal Hill Common.

 

The main aim of heathland management today – which includes heather cutting, scrub clearance and bracken control – is to replace the traditional practices as far as is possible, so as to reinstate the open nature of the heathland at Shoal Hill Common.  This will ensure a rich tapestry of plants and associated animals survive today and for future generations of local people. 

 

When visiting Shoal Hill, please be aware of Biosecurity.  This is a set of precautions that aim to prevent the introduction and spread of harmful organisms within our forests and woodlands.  These may be pests, pathogens or invasive species.  Further information can be found on the Foresty Commission website.  

 

A festive 'Holly Management' day will be held on Shoal Hill on the 6th December.  This will be a morning of heathland management cutting back the invading Holly, followed by an afternoon of being taught how to make wreathes with the cuttings at the Chasewater Innovation Centre.

Lunch and refreshements will be served but booking is essential! 

For further information please contact Emma Beaman at the Cannock Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Unit on 01785 619186

 

 

Links:

 

External Link: Cannock Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

External Link: DEFRA

External Link: Staffordshire Biodiversity Action Plan

External Link: Staffordshire Wildlife Trust

 

Contact:

 

Howard Medlicott - Management Consultant on behalf of Shoal Hill Common Joint Committee 

Telephone: 07875 282229

 

Bob Collett - Shoal Hill Common Ranger

Telephone: 07976 226551

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