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Matching Green - Archive

Matching Green

Description

Size: 4.9 hectares 

Grid Reference: TL 53580 11080 {phocamaps view=link|id=24|text=Map}

Owners: Matching Parish Council

Access: Open public access

Matching Green is one of the largest surviving village greens in Essex and represents the sixth largest area of unimproved herb rich grassland in the district. As a wildlife resource it is amongst the most threatened habitat in the Country and in Essex it is one of the rarest. Essex has lost 99% of all its wildflower meadows since 1945 and so it is vital we try and preserve areas like Matching Green. The Green's special wildlife value is recognised by its designation as Local Wildlife Site.

Countrycare’s involvement with the Green. At the end of 1998, Matching Parish Council approached Countrycare and asked if the Countryside Manager could put forward some management options that could see the Green managed in a more sympathetic way for nature conservation. At the time and for a number of years before the Green had been cut with gang mowers and all the cuttings left on. This was starting to have a bad impact on the wildlflowers.

In early 1999 a restoration plan was produced and a 3-year management programme agreed by Matching Parish Council. At the outset there were difficulties. On closer inspection, the ground was found to be unsuitable for silage machinery and so this idea had to be dropped. A contractor was found and paid for by EFDC to take on the job.  In the first few years the weather was also a major headache with unseasonably and very wet weather. For example, 2000 was to be the wettest on record. In the first 2 years the Green was cut twice in June and again in September.

 Despite the problems, by the end of 2001 the scheme had been very successful. The overall appearance of the Green when the grass was long had steadily improving. The rank nature of the grass that was clearly visible over certain areas of the Green at the outset had also diminished considerably. There were still some areas with fewer wildflowers, but even these areas were responding with less vigorous growth. The heavy thatch layer that had built over the Green through years of cutting and leaving the arisings had also largely disappeared. Although difficult to accurately assess, on balance the amount of wildflowers seen on the green had increased and the coarser grasses diminished.  To help things further, Countrycare’s contractor purchased baling machinery that meant the hay could be baled green.

There have been a number of surveys carried out by botanists on the green. See below here for the May 2006 Survey.

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