Grassland conversion gets beefed up in East Durham
PUBLISHED: 00:16 05 March 2011 | UPDATED: 18:58 20 February 2013
North East food enthusiasts are helping ensure the survival of Durham's beautiful and rare grassland habitats every time they order East Durham Grassland Beef.
North East food enthusiasts are helping ensure the survival of Durhams beautiful and rare grassland habitats every time they order East Durham Grassland Beef.
The beef comes from cattle that are conservation grazed on Durhams Heritage Coast, helping to conserve and expand the unique magnesian limestone ecosystems which make the area so special.
Up to 200 hectares of grazing land between Hawthorn Dene and Blackhall, as well as some pockets slightly inland, could eventually be returned to original grassland through the project, which is being delivered through the Durham Coastal Grazing Group.
Jim Cokill, a director at Durham Wildlife Trust and member of the Durham Coastal Grazing Group, said: Eating East Durham Grassland Beef is a really enjoyable way to help protect Durhams wonderful grasslands and the wildlife they support. We know that conservation grazing is the best way to manage and conserve these unique grasslands and the rich variety of wildlife they sustain. And now we can also confirm the finished beef tastes fantastic too.
County Durham is the only place in the UK where magnesian limestone rock outcrops on the surface over such a wide area and is also the point where mainly southern plant species meet those usually found in the north, and where coastal and inland species also mix.
Conservation grazing is carefully timed to protect and promote the growth of these delicate habitats. The land must be grazed during the winter months, a time when continental breeds of cattle, which are most frequently used by UK beef farmers, have to be fed indoors.
However, hardy native breeds of cows such as the English longhorn or highland cattle, can graze outdoors throughout the winter and are ideal for producing East Durham Grassland Beef.
The first beef was made available for a limited time only at the popular Black Horse pub near Beamish and Dropswell Farm Shop near Trimdon.
The current membership of the Durham Coastal Grazing Group is Durham County Council, Durham Heritage Coast Partnership, Durham Wildlife Trust, National Trust and the Grasslands Trust.