DISTINCTIVE stripes have started appearing on the slopes of the Malvern Hills as this year's programme of bracken management begins.

To weaken the dense stands of bracken, areas are rolled twice over the summer using a tractor, this creating the characteristic stripes up and down the slopes.

Repeating this process year-on-year can reduce the density and the spread of bracken across the hills and commons.

A spokesman for the Malvern Hills trust, which is carrying out the work, said: "Bracken is a fern which grows vigorously across the country, including here on the Malvern Hills.

"Although scattered patches can provide a habitat for some small mammals, birds and reptiles, without management it can take over other habitats.

"Rolling the bracken breaks up the dense stands and provides space and light for other species to grow.

"The acid grasslands on the upper slopes of the hills and the species-rich hay meadows on the lower commons are at risk of being lost if bracken isn't managed.

"Bracken control is part of the wider land management works we carry out to conserve the rare and scarce habitats and species found on the Malvern Hills and commons."