A HISTORIC landscape at the foot of the Malvern Hills is in danger of becoming lost because not enough livestock is being grazed on it.

Castlemorton Common has for centuries been grazed by cattle and sheep owned by local residents, or commoners.

But the number of animals on the land has declined over the years and this summer, for the first time, Malvern Hills Conservators have used machines to clear some of the undergrowth.

Med Snookes, chairman of the Castlemorton Common Association, said: "The common is the result of hundreds of years of grazing, but now there is less grazing than ever before, and large areas of the common are being overrun by scrub and bramble.

"If nothing is done, the common's landscape will be damaged including rare plants and animals that have made it a Site of Special Scientific Interest."

Jonathan Bills, the Conservators' conservation officer, said: "The weather we have had this summer has caused plants to grow well - parts of Castlemorton Common look more like the Serengeti than middle England with tall grasses and bramble expanding fast.

"However, the cutting is only a remedial action and what the common really needs is grazing animals to keep the vegetation under control."

Mr Snookes said: "One of the reasons for the decline in grazing is that more and more of the houses on the common that have commoners' rights attached to them are occupied by people who are not farmers.

"Cutting isn't a long-term solution. It's expensive and much of the common is too bumpy to be cut effectively."

"In the longer term we will have to look at ideas such as getting graziers from elsewhere to bring their livestock here to graze."

Mr Bills said: "The association, parish council and Conservators all agree that if Castlemorton Common is to remain a unique, characterful place in the future, it needs grazing. Anyone who may be interested in grazing cattle on the common is asked to get in touch with any of the three organisations."