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16 February 2010
Scrub clearance at Old Sarum

English Heritage has hit back at criticism of its management of Old Sarum (the site of the earliest settlement of Salisbury, in England, containing evidence of human habitation as early as 3000 BCE) as a fresh round of scrub clearance gets under way. And it has confirmed that no new trees will be allowed to grow up there. The work has upset campaigner Mo Vines, who has accused the organisation of 'getting rid of our future' by felling yew and beech saplings and holly bushes. "It will end up like Figsbury - just dead," she said. "I want to see variety and diversity there."
     English Heritage says it is trying to preserve the embankments, which are being damaged by tree roots, by grass being shaded out on the surface, and by rabbits. Its ultimate aim is to restore the monument's original character as unimproved chalk grassland, and it has the backing of the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust. EH landscape manager for the Southwest, Chris Bally, said only scrub was being taken out, and the work was being car ried out by volunteers from the group Friends of Ancient Monuments. He said large trees would not be felled unless they became unsafe, but he is preparing a planning application for permission to clear more thorn, ash and sycamore.
     Archaeologist Julian Richards, who is drawing up a management plan for the site, said he was recommending 'a lot more' scrub clearance. "The policy is going to be not to allow woodland to regenerate naturally in places where we don't want it. Primarily, Old Sarum is not a nature reserve, it's a nationally important ancient monument and English Heritage holds it in guardianship for the nation. I will be working with the volunteers up there on Sunday and I will be happy to explain to people what's going on." Mr Richards said he was recommending to English Heritage that a Friends of Old Sarum group be formed to involve the community in its care.

Source: Salisbury Journal (11 February 2010)

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