Creating 'green highways' boosts biodiversity
In Pembrokeshire Coast National Park a land management scheme is helping create coastal 'wildlife corridors' and boosting biodiversity. The idea is to work with landowners and farmers to 'green highways' which:
- Optimise conditions for wildlife
- Lessen the impact of habitat fragmentation
- Reinstate a network of wildlife-friendly corridors along coastal strips of land
- Give existing species the chance to establish larger, more sustainable populations and to establish new populations
How the scheme works
The project began in 2002 with around 50 (mostly privately owned) sites. By 2007 this number had grown to around 90 sites (covering 1,000 hectares of land). By 2009 this had increased again to 170 sites (more than 2,000ha).
National Park staff help farmers manage land in a way that benefits biodiversity and wildlife by offering:
- Advice and information on grants and other assistance
- Free practical assistance from staff and specialist equipment
- Help with capital works such as fencing, water supply, gates
- Payments for managing land through management agreements
- Help to source the right grazing stock and machinery
- Continued support even when management is up and running
Wildlife increases in coastal corridors
- Skylarks are thriving in these wildlife corridor areas
- The chough population continues to grow steadily as higher-quality feeding habitat is created by traditional grazing and vegetation management on the coastal slopes
- Vegetation structure and habitat diversity on the majority of these sites has improved
- Species diversity (particularly plants) has also improved markedly
- Habitats are in much better condition and links beyond site boundaries are better
- The coastal corridor around the Pembrokeshire coast is now functioning as a 'green highway'
For more on land management projects: www.pembrokeshirecoast.org.uk/wildlife_corridors
For Pembrokeshire 'wildlife healthcheck' results: www.pembrokeshirecoast.org.uk/wildlife
Skylark numbers take off at former airfield
A former military airfield in St Davids, bought by the park authority 12 years ago, is now home to a growing skylark population thanks to traditional grassland management techniques.
The land is now managed, in partnership with a local farmer, as a traditional hay meadow. This has provided a suitable habitat for many species including skylarks and the land has also been given Soil Association organic status.
- When the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority purchased the St Davids airfield 12 years ago it recorded just 30 pairs of skylarks on the site
- Now recent surveys have found numbers have more than doubled to 65 pairs producing around 360 chicks a year