Restoring flower rich habitat at Coity Wallia common
Our Conservation Officer for Wales, Sinead Lynch, has been working with PONT (Pori Natur a Thefadraeth) to provide habitat management advice for the ‘Coity Wallia Commons Biodiversity Enhancement’ project north of Bridgend in south Wales.
The ‘Coity Wallia Commons Biodiversity Enhancement’ project aims to restore and reconnect 1,063 hectares of priority habitats on Cefn Hirgoed and Mynydd y Gaer commons north of Bridgend, with particular emphasis on management for the Marsh fritillary butterfly, High brown fritillary butterfly and Shrill carder bee. The project is funded mainly by Biffa Award.
Although there are no recent records of Shrill carder bee on the Coity Wallia Commons, there are records at the nearby Parc Slip Nature Reserve, so it is hoped that the Shrill carders will make the 2 mile trip (as the bee flies) across Aberkenfig and Sarn to the new flower rich habitats at Coity Wallia Commons.
Over time large parts of the Coity Wallia Commons have been invaded by bracken, rush and gorse, and some of the grasslands and fen areas have grown coarse and tussocky which makes it difficult for livestock to graze. In contrast, other parts of the commons have been overgrazed by sheep which leaves very short grass with very few wild flowers. The project is helping to restore these habitats by removing the invasive and coarse vegetation to open up habitats for livestock. The grazing on overgrazed and undergrazed areas is being balanced through opening up habitats, as well as shepherding and using mineral licks. The commoners are also being encouraged to maintain traditional grazing practices on the commons, especially using cattle and ponies.
As part of the Coity Wallia project, Sinead has been working with PONT to restore a 2 ½ hectare hay meadow. The meadow cannot be grazed like the rest of the common as it is unfenced and directly adjacent to a busy road. The meadow area has been sown with wildflower seed, and planted with wildflower plug plants. The meadow will be cut once a year in late summer, and the cuttings will be removed. This management will maintain the meadow habitat, and will stop coarse grasses and rushes from out-competing the wildflowers.
Sinead is also running bumblebee identification training days with PONT to train local residents and volunteers to record and monitor bumblebees on Coity Wallia Commons.
PONT is a not-for-profit organisation which exists to encourage and facilitate grazing for the benefit of the wildlife, landscape and cultural heritage of Wales. To find out more about their Coity Wallia Commons Biodiversity Enhancement project click here.
Plug planting at ‘Coity Wallia meadow’
Devil’s bit scabious (Succisa pratensis) has been planted in the Coity Wallia meadow as it is the food plant of the Marsh fritillary (Euphydryas aurinia), and it is also loved by bumblebees.
“Bumblebees are one of the most endearing insect visitors to any garden. Their furry, colourful bodies and clumsy flight always raise a smile, but they also do an essential job. Without their pollination services many flowers would produce no seeds, and fruit and vegetable yields would suffer.”