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Grasslands in Wales are facing increasing threats – from development to pollution and damaging farming practices – and Plantlife is working to create positive change.
This 3-year partnership project will strive to recover the condition of some of our most important places for grassland habitats.
The grasslands we will be working on are Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), and Important Plant Areas, or Important Fungus Areas, where their condition is poor or currently unknown.
We will also work with farmers and other landowners on land close to these important sites, to help protect the special habitats by creating more wildlife-friendly environments around them.
We will be doing this work in partnership with North Wales Wildlife Trust and PONT.
Semi-natural grasslands now only occupy about 9% of Wales. In contrast, species-poor agricultural grasslands cover more than 1 million hectares, over half our land area. This is a relatively recent phenomenon; our semi-natural grasslands declined by over 90% during the 20th century.
We can see that even our SSSIs, our most important and protected wildlife-rich grasslands – have not fared well. When they were assessed by Natural Resources Wales in 2020, a third of protected features were in unfavourable condition. The condition of half was unknown.
Meanwhile over 40% of our threatened Welsh wild flowers are found in meadow and pasture habitats.
The need for us to act is clear, and through Glaswelltiroedd Gwydn we hope to recover the condition of some of our most important places for grassland habitats in Wales.
The project focuses on important grassland habitats. However, there are many different types of grassland in Wales. We expect to be working on a range of these and here are just some examples:
Meadow habitat is very threatened in Wales, with long-term declines in hay making, and re-seeding of cropped fields with ryegrass. We will support positive management of remaining meadows, and promote the value of species-rich meadows for farming and grazing livestock as well as conservation.
Rhôs pasture is a distinctive feature of the Welsh countryside. This damp grassland is often dominated by rushes and tall plants of Purple Moor-grass, and is home to a great number of other species too. The habitat has become threatened in Wales due to development, agricultural intensification, and in some places transition to scrub as farms abandon land of this type.
Ancient grassland can encompass a range of habitats. The feature they share is a long history of grassland management without ploughing, or other major agricultural impacts. If they have been heavily grazed, they may not be that botanically diverse.
However, if they have been kept short by mowing or grazing, their undisturbed soils can still be incredibly important for fungi. Despite being only 10% of the area of Great Britain, Wales is home to 55% of British grassland fungi. We hope to promote awareness and better protection of these fungal communities and the ancient grasslands where they occur.
As the project develops, we hope to have a range of volunteering opportunities. We will be looking for people who can:
We would love to hear from anyone interested in volunteering for Glaswelltiroedd Gwydn. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more details, or follow the instructions to take part in our waxcap surveys.
Plantlife created the Waxcap Watch to make it easy for people to get involved with waxcap recording. You don’t need to be able to identify species – just their colours.
The information this provides will help the project assess the value of grasslands across Wales for these important fungi. On Resilient Grassland project sites, this will also help us get the grassland management right. But data from anywhere in Wales is valuable, to help us find new, important places for these overlooked species and protect them for the future
Take part today
The Nature Networks Fund is funded by the Welsh Government and delivered by The National Lottery Heritage Fund in partnership with Natural Resources Wales.
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