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  • Writer's pictureAlistair

Habitat Map

Updated: Oct 7, 2021

What have we inherited?

Following my earlier blog post on 3 July 2021, Rob Parry of INCCymru (Initiative for Nature Conservation Cymru has worked his magic and created a habitat map of Cefn Garthenor. This snapshot of the habitat will allow us to chart changes in the environment as we strive to create a landscape with more biodiversity and interest.

So, what do we have? Well, the land can be broadly categorised as comprising:

As you might expect of a farm in this part of Wales, lots of grassland. The marshy grassland is the most interesting of that, and much of it included within an area designated as a SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest), known as Rhosydd Bryn-maen. The SSSI as a whole extends well beyond our boundary was designated due to its high quality acid, neutral and marshy grassland. It is home to the marsh fritillary butterfly, Lilljeborg’s whorl snail and the oxbow diving beetle (but not necessarily within Cefn Garthenor). The SSSI comes with management requirements which I will write on in a future blog.

The improved (and to a lesser extent semi-improved) grassland would normally be considered good by farmers, but for biodiversity is far from perfect. These are the bright green fields we associate with the countryside. Essentially the grass wins in these nutrient rich conditions and this is to the detriment of wild flowers and the upward chain of creatures that benefit from them, as well as soil structure. I will be looking at how to make these areas move to a more nature friendly state.

The broadleaved woodland is not as you might imagine. Look at the map and you will see that a fair bit of that woodland is linear and running around fields. This is where over time what might have been a hedge has grown out, and as trees have reached up they have dominated and beaten their near neighbours. Nature does not stand still, and there is a constant ebb and flow with winners and losers. Blackthorn, brambles and the like have gone. But we have some beautiful ash, oak, alder, birch and more.

And so on. Each habitat type has its own benefits and challenges, and will need to be considered in terms of its own biodiversity and environmental impact, as well as its context within the whole area.

The maps and the results of the survey will allow us to develop a plan of action and to prioritise. Some things have already started, with action taken on the hoof with regard to the Galloways for example (needed for the SSSI), and plans to develop some wild flower meadows (in the improved grassland areas). Other things are more vague. Some areas may benefit from the creation of ponds and scrapes, there may be room for some professional rooting from a couple of old breed pigs and some ditches will likely be blocked. Plus, many other ideas yet to be thought of. So, this is very much a starting point on what will doubtless be a meandering journey.


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