A great deal of action takes place to ensure biodiversity is
safeguarded in Pembrokeshire. Details of actions taking place can be
found in the Local
Biodiversity Action Plan or you can find out more
information about specific projects here.
Project Report - From Wheat to Heath
Pembrokeshire is clearly dominated by its coastline – a key
which drives the tourist economy in this part of Wales. Much of this
coast is rugged and undeveloped, and of outstanding landscape and
wildlife value. The Milford Haven waterway, in contrast, is an
industrial centre of long-standing economic importance and it is the
oil refineries that have been central to this in recent years. As
elsewhere in rural Wales though, it is farming which has shaped the
land and is ultimately responsible for both the decline and
resurrection of our treasured wildlife.
Farm is a 250 hectare farm covering the south side of Marloes
peninsula. It is owned by the National Trust, but farmed commercially
by the tenants.
|Maps of the area from the late
onwards, show how the wildflower-rich grassland and heathland made way
for more productive grasslands and arable crops; by the mid twentieth
century the natural plant communities were confined to a narrow strip
along the cliff-edge where machinery couldn’t venture.
for increases in production led to the disappearance of weeds along the
arable field margins, together with the insects and birds that depended
conservation has for many years concentrated on stopping
further losses of our natural heritage taking place. Now, with the
importance of the environment being more widely accepted, opportunities
to restore some of our countryside to benefit wildlife, archaeology and
landscape do occasionally present themselves. The Marloes Coast Project
aimed to restore a patchwork of heathland, flower-rich grassland,
scrub, ponds and ‘wildlife-friendly’ arable crops,
the whole 70 hectare coastal belt.
Restoring heathland was central to the project. The blaze of purple
heathers, the coconut-scent of the gorse on a hot summer day, the
humming of bumble-bees and the chattering of linnets nesting deep in
the thick cover, make heathland one of Pembrokeshire’s most
cherished habitats. Large tracts of land on acidic, infertile soils
were once covered with heath, but only small fragments of this
internationally important habitat now remain. Faced with soils heavily
modified by lime and fertiliser, we had to find ways to counteract the
high soil pH and nutrient load before trying to get heathers and other
plants to establish.
answer came from an unusual idea. ChevronTexaco capture sulphur
from their emissions, to prevent the damaging atmospheric depositions
known popularly as ‘acid rain’. Although a damaging
pollutant to some ecosystems, experimental work by Liverpool University
in the 1990’s demonstrated that the acidifying nature of
could be put to positive use in heathland restoration projects.
Although the experiments were successful, the technique remained
largely theoretical rather than practical as – at upwards of
£450 / ton - the cost of processed sulphur was clearly
prohibitive in anything other than small-scale trials. Attracted by the
paradoxical nature of the project, Texaco agreed to donate up to 100
tons of sulphur to spread on the fields at Marloes. The sulphur was
taken by lorry to the project site in early August, and applied to the
fields by a conventional lime-spreader (thank you Hancock Brothers). A
five-year monitoring project is in place to look at the resulting
changes in soil chemistry and vegetation. It may also be worth noting
here that the conversion of ploughed arable land to undisturbed
heathland will lock-up carbon, and play a small part in reducing
greenhouse gas emissions.