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In order to preserve and promote biodiversity and conserve the historic landscape and bountiful wildlife at Hylands Estate, we endeavour to do it in the most natural and environmentally sensitive way possible.

In conjunction with Chelmsford City Council Parks and Green Spaces Team and the wonderful Volunteers Hylands Estate thrives year on year.

Wildlife Conservation

Grazing cattle

Red Poll beef cattle have returned to a hay meadow in Hylands Park, Chelmsford, Essex for the summer as part of the Essex Grazing Project.

Red Polls are a traditional East Anglian variety of cattle, identified as a native breed at risk – the same type of cattle that our Essex ancestors would have seen around the countryside. They are ideally suited to grazing sites that are important for wildlife and open to the public. Lighter than most commercial continental breeds, they happily forage on vegetation and have a quiet, docile character.

Hylands Estate first introduced the cattle in April 2016. After spending spring, summer and early autumn browsing meadows and parkland, the cattle were housed for the winter and are now back outside.

During their time in the park, the herd will be a new sight for passing visitors, but they will also help to promote biodiversity and conserve the historic landscape of the area.

Hay has been made in Essex for centuries. A 76-hectare section of the park is currently used for haymaking, including the eight-hectare area of Widford Church Hill Meadow where the Red Polls will graze. As a result, the meadow is already a haven for plants and animals.

As they roam across the landscape, the cattle decide where to concentrate their efforts, creating a mosaic of different-length grasses. This is good for ground-nesting birds, while trampled ground is perfect for invertebrates, reptiles and seedlings that might not otherwise survive. Even the animals’ dung is good for the environment – over 250 species of insect are found in it, which are in turn eaten by birds, badgers, foxes and bats.

So that visitors to the park can enjoy watching the new arrivals, the meadow also includes a regularly-mown path. The cattle will be watched over by official Cattle Lookers, who will check that they are secure and healthy.

For more information on the Essex Grazing Project, including how to volunteer as a Cattle Looker, please visit

Woodland Management

  • Coppicing – Selective cutting down of certain trees to encourage regrowth and woodland wildflowers.
  • Tree Thinning – Selective removal of certain tree species to open the canopy up and allow more light in for woodland wildflowers.
  • Dead hedging – Creation of hedges constructed with branches from the trees cut down to provide habitat and protection of sensitive areas.
  • Footpath maintenance – Footpath repairs to allow access but also to ensure sensitive areas are not trampled.
  • Native tree planting – Where there are gaps in woodland areas native trees are carefully selected and planted.

Hylands Horses

The Hylands Horses have been resident at Hylands Estate since 2008 to fulfil ambition of having working horses on the Estate. The horses help manage the park in an environmentally sensitive way, specialising in woodland management and timber extraction. Firewood that the horses collect as part of their work can be purchased. The logs are excellent quality hardwood, mainly Hornbeam and Ash, which are produced from the sustainable coppicing that the horses are doing on the estate to conserve the valuable woodland habitats at Hylands and other local woodlands.  In addition it is very sustainable with very little carbon used in its production, making it possibly the most environmentally friendly fuel in Essex.

Hylands horses are operated and cared for Hawthorn Heavy Horses.

Pond maintenance

  • Removal of invasive species and litter.
  • Installation of willow fences to reduce erosion.

Wildflower meadow maintenance

Meadow cutting throughout the summer time is carried out by machines, not volunteers,  by removing the cut grass this encourages wildflowers to grow and flourish.

Wildflower seed collecting and distribution is completed also. This involves collecting certain species in small containers and scattering them in the less wildflower rich areas.


Structured woodland surveying is completed regularly  in order to assess the numbers of different wildflowers. The same process is completed to assess the numbers of different wildflowers in the Meadows also.

Historical conservation

Hylands Estate is nearly 300 years old and so far we have successfully restored and renovated Hylands House, The Stables and home farm. However we still have historic features on the estate that we help preserve until future works are completed. The Walled Victorian Kitchen Garden is yet to be restored. In the meantime our team limit damage by removing trees and bramble. To reduce damage to water cress beds our team also remove trees, brambles and leaves in order to maintain the historic features.

To find out more about how you can get involved please take a look at our Volunteer page.