The value of scrubland and how to look after it

If you work in groundscare, it is likely that you will work in scrubland at some point, but what exactly is it? Scrub can technically be described as a ‘successional habitat’. This means that it is temporary and transitioning from one habitat, usually open grassy areas, to another, generally woodland. In less scientific language, it could be referred to as thickets or a brambly mess. Scrubland can consist of just a few small patches of nettles and brambles, or it can be more densely packed with young trees or gorse bushes. For these reasons, and due to differing factors, such as soil type and topography, scrubland can have a huge variety of hugely varying animal and plant communities living within it.

In fact, scientists agree that scrub is one of the most critical habitats in the UK, with over 450 rare and threatened species of plant, insect and bird associated with it and depending upon it for survival. It may not be the prettiest, but it certainly is important.

Over the years the amount of scrubland in the UK has depleted for a variety of reasons such as the adoption of more intensive agricultural practices taking over traditional scrub grazing land. Native species have evolved to flourish in the mixed rural landscapes that have developed, and scrub is a still a vital component in this, providing shelter and food.

There still comes a point, though, when scrub will require an element of management. It’s important that before any work is conducted a site survey is carried out to ascertain what wildlife is present. Knowing this will allow you to properly work around it, including when best to carry out the work, to avoid hibernating animals, for example.

When drawing up your plan of action, think about keeping a variety of old and young scrub. This will ensure that you continue to provide variety and diversity, making it appealing to a wider range of species. It’s a good idea, too, to create a plan that sees you managing scrub at a low level at regular intervals rather than a severe and heavy-handed approach less frequently.

Make sure that you maintain a direct link to the surrounding habitats, as this creates wildlife corridors that are vital for species to explore the landscape.  Make sure that you control invasive species such as Japanese knotweed and rhododendron, as they have very little value for wildlife and will happily take over the site if allowed, causing you more problems in the long run.  

There are a range of techniques that can be employed to control scrub when necessary, and one of them is to use a brushcutter. Brushcutters are ideal for cutting through overgrown bush and fields and for clearing through dense scrub. Billy Goat brushcutters have rigid 66 cm mowing decks, combined with heavy duty spindles and strong engines. The ergonomic controls make them easy to use in even the harshest environments.

The BC2600HEBB | BC Series – Pivoting Deck has been engineered to glide over uneven terrain, like scrub, as its pivoting brush deck hugs the ground for a close cut. This improves traction keeping the weight of the machine firmly on its extra wide tyres. It comes with a Tuff Torq™ variable hydrostatic transmission featuring fully automatic Enhanced Traction Control (ETC), offering superior traction in wet or uneven conditions and can cut saplings and brush at a rate of an acre per hour.

If you’re after a fixed deck, the BC2600ICM | BC Series – Fixed Deck is a great option, providing excellent stability in deep vegetation.  The mechanical transaxle, featuring three speeds forward and one reverse, and powered by a Honda engine, is ideal for clearing meadows and fields or cutting paths and trails wherever dense brush and weeds present a clean-up challenge. The heavy-duty blade spindle is reinforced on four sides to tackle the toughest cutting conditions, including thick brushes, grass and weeds over 180 cm tall, and saplings up to 5 cm diameter.    

Billy Goat brushcutters can help you to manage scrubland responsibly, and with ease.

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