Friday 28 April 2023
The 2023 programme of vegetation cutting along the verges of the Island's cliff path has started at Petit Bot, heading east.
Agriculture, Countryside and Land Management Services (ACLMS) is responsible for managing this maintenance programme, which covers the 28.5 miles of cliff paths between La Vallette and Fort Pezeries, ensuring they are cut twice a year. The start of the first cut is decided according to weather conditions which influence the growth of plants, but in general the cut begins between the third week of April and second week of May. The first cliff path cut is usually completed by mid-July. This is then repeated and the second cut is completed by around mid-October.
The cutting schedule rotates through the different sections along the cliff paths to ensure that areas do not get cut at exactly the same time in their growth period in succeeding years. Although it is inevitable that some plants will be cut back whilst they are still in bloom, this rotation ensures there is always a well-stocked seed bank from previous years so that future displays of spring flowers are undiminished.
Richard Langmead, Manager of the Land Management team at States Works, said:
"The States Works team cutting the paths is very experienced, with some members who have been doing the job for over twenty years. The team is knowledgeable on the wild plants found on the cliffs and take special care of the areas where orchids and other less common plants are to be found."
Emily Coule, ACLMS Natural Environment Officer states:
"Cutting the cliff paths not only allows access for members of the public to engage with nature, it is also beneficial to Guernsey's biodiversity as it stops more aggressive vegetation taking over. The cliff paths have a unique place in Guernsey's biodiversity as they are home to many rare plants such as the dwarf pansy, shaggy mouse-ear hawkweed and early sandgrass."
ACLMS and States Works work with the Black-Backed Meadow Ant project to ensure this rare species has the best chance of thriving. ACLMS marks the ant nests with red flags between Pleinmont and Icart so that the cliff path team can give special attention to cutting around the nests. This large ant is declining and is now extinct in the United Kingdom but can be found along Guernsey's south cliffs. The intention is to increase light and air to the ants which prefer a warmer and drier habitat. This is particularly important following the exceptionally wet conditions during early spring this year. These ants thrive in permanent grassland and heathlands. Without a regular cutting regime on the cliff paths, their habitat would be lost and succeeded by scrubby vegetation.