Haigh Woodland Park is fully committed to positive and proactive conservation and environment management. As part of this commitment, the Park – in partnership with the Conservation Pig Company (conservationpigs.co.uk) of Wigan – embarked on a project to utilise rare-breed pigs in the control of invasive weed and plant species.
Following a successful similar project at nearby Borsdane Wood, the Haigh project uses Saddleback Pigs to graze within fenced plots of land measuring 1 Hectare.
The plots are moved approximately every 6-8 months and to date over 4 Hectares of land have been naturally cleared.
The project – supported by the Forestry Commission, Red Rose Forest and delivered in partnership with Edge Hill University, is proving very popular with visitors, the local community and educational groups interested in biodiversity and sustainable woodland management.
Up to 20 pigs at any time forage on unwelcome plants including Himalayan Balsam. The pigs are rotated on a six monthly basis.
Great care is taken to manage the health of the animals as well as the health of the land they occupy.
Here in Haigh Woodland Park we are resurrecting a traditional way of animal and woodland management that nearly died out in the Middle Ages. Important ‘members’ of the woodland management team are our English Saddleback Pigs who effectively control some problem plant species. Large areas of the woodland have become dominated by Bramble, Himalayan Balsam and Japanese Knotweed. These ‘invasive’ species out compete our native woodland wild flowers. Luckily all these ‘invaders’ are high on the pigs’ favourite food menu and they have had a great effect in removing areas which will once again be coloured up with Wood Anemone, Lesser Celandine, Wood Sorrel and Bluebells.
Pigs are a real benefit to our woodland managing the undergrowth and allowing natural regeneration through their foraging. They make Haigh Woodland Park a much richer place for wildlife, for trees and wild plants.