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Achieved Projects

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Projects

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. 

Lastest Project Report -  From Wheat to Heath

Pembrokeshire is clearly dominated by its coastline – a key asset 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.
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Trehill Farm, Marloes 
Trehill 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 eighteenth century 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. Demands for increases in production led to the disappearance of weeds along the arable field margins, together with the insects and birds that depended on them.

Wildlife 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, across 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.
The 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 sulphur 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.
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Pembrokeshire