The Northwest Pembrokeshire Commons (NWPC) Special Area of Conservation (SAC) is largely in poor ecological condition due to the decline of traditional grazing that previously created and managed the important wildlife habitat of heath, marshy grassland, bog and standing water. The SAC commons are also fragmented by agricultural land which limits the dispersal of many species. SAC-quality habitat on private farmland has been lost due to changing agricultural practices (intensification of productive land and abandonment of so called ‘rough land’), with a corresponding decline in biodiversity and places for nature. This type of habitat largely now remains only on public or not-for-profit land managed for conservation. As over 80% of the land in Wales is farmed, and most of that land is privately-owned, it is vital to work with private landowners to re-connect fragmented habitat.
This project pioneered a collaborative approach between ourselves at Lower Harglodd (The Bug Farm), the Pembrokeshire Nature Partnership, the National Trust and the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales. Our land at Lower Harglodd connects two areas of the SAC –Dowrog Common Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and the St Davids Airfield Heaths SSSI. This strip is currently very narrow but provides a critically important wildlife corridor. The aim of the project was to help re-connect SAC habitat and protect that land for wildlife in the long term while also working with the National Trust to bring a non-SAC parcel of common land back into better condition to further strengthen the robustness of marshy grassland habitat in the locality.
The project delivered a scheme of baseline ecological surveys, heath creation, wildflower plug planting, wildflower meadow seeding, hedgebank creation, hedgerow planting and conservation grazing to create 26.43 hectares of ‘bigger, better, more joined up’ habitat.
We have been concerned for some time that important wildlife habitat on private land can be lost to future agricultural intensification or development. Therefore, we worked with Agri Advisor Solicitors to develop a guideline Trust to protect land for wildlife forever. As part of this project, we will put our private project land into Trust after our days. As part of this, all our grazing animals must be looked after as conservation grazers and family members and live their full and complete lives on the farm until the end of their days.
If you own a garden, a field, a smallholding or a large farm that you want to protect for wildlife forever, hopefully you can use the template (and guidance document) below as a starting point. You will need to name your trustees and ensure this document is referenced in you Will. You will also need to develop management guidelines to ensure that your trustees know how you want your land looked after in the future. As part of a future project, we will make example management guidelines for different habitats available. We will also develop a guideline for how to protect land for wildlife when you want to leave it to the next generation rather than put it into Trust. Please e-mail us if you would like us to send these documents to you when we have them.
This project was funded by a Welsh Government Local Places for Nature project delivered by WCVA in collaboration with the Pembrokeshire Nature Partnership (Pembrokeshire County Council), the National Trust and the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales.