Author: Rebecca Vincent

The Good & the Bad of the South Gower Coast

Swansea Local Group on a Fresh Air Walk on the South Gower Coast Nature Reserves. Robert Davies.

Spring has sprung on Gower and in the recent sunny weather our South Gower Coast reserves at Overton & Port Eynon have been stunning with fantastic limestone specialist plants in full bloom. May and June are a great time to get out and see the colourful natural displays of squill, thrift, rockrose, birdsfoot trefoil, ivy-leaved stone crop and such like along with the tall bright cowslips and the eye catching early purple orchids. Its also a great time to observe bird activity with peregrine seen exploring nesting sites, stonechat sitting in the tops of gorse bushes and chough paired up and feeding where the turf is close cropped. It’s not all big views, suntans, birds and flowers for the WTSWW staff & volunteer team managing these reserves though. With the increased visitor numbers (it is estimated there is over 15000 visitors to Overton Mere each year), brought about by the beautiful spring conditions there have been a number of challenges this spring that have demanded our time and attention.

Back in December 2017 we were celebrating the reintroduction of grazing animals for the first time in about 35 years to Overton Mere where it is expected grazing with ponies and cattle will bring huge benefits to the limestone grassland and coastal heath habitats. The project was considered completed once the livestock were turned out but the work has not stopped since. Intelligent animals soon find a way of showing you the weak points in your plans, things you didn’t manage to foresee. We have had to retrofit auto-latches &springs on all the gates to ensure they close behind walkers who don’t close the gates behind them.  We have had to reinforce fences where the ponies learnt they could push and work the wire loose then by getting down on their knees they would step through the wire and head off on an adventure towards Port Eynon. Escapee ponies certainly increased the stress and work-load for the local volunteers who check the livestock daily. We also had to extend and install new fencing to keep livestock and walkers from meeting head-to-head on the more enclosed entrance track from the village of Overton which is popular with both locals and visitors alike.

A task which is continual but which has seen increased activity by locals, (including a local primary school), volunteers and staff recently has been beach cleaning and working along the rocky foreshore removing plastics and fishing debris stopping them returning to the marine environment during higher tides. Thankfully litter is not a big issue on the paths through the reserves although we do have to carry out litter picks and the unpleasant job of collecting discarded used dog poo bags; these are particularly dangerous to livestock which are attracted to the high cereal content found in dog faeces. One of our volunteers found a bag which had passed through a pony’s digestive system.

Normally we remove bagged collected marine plastic debris from site as soon as we can but earlier in spring the ground conditions were too wet to haul it out. Unfortunately, on the first dry weekend there were several apparent arson attempts which failed on gorse at Overton Cliff and Longhole Cliff; it appears when the cliff did not catch the arsonists decided to burn the skip load of plastics that was awaiting extraction leaving a slick of molten plastic and contaminated soil above the beach at Overton Mere. Donning respirators and PPE we cleared this up.

The arson has continued with us responding to reports of suspicious activity but unfortunately the dry late-spring conditions have led to two big fires being set. About half of the vegetation between the eastern boundary and the slade which drops down to Boiler Slab has been scorched including through some of the most important areas of coastal heath. We have been working to come up with plans to make this situation better, to bring benefits to the habitats which we will deliver in coming weeks. We are also working on long term plans to get the grazing right on this reserve to prevent a large-scale burn again. We have also spent time exploring a future project to introduce grazing to Overton Cliff, another site where gorse is threatening important plant species and fire risk is high.

Working the South Gower Coast is not all sunshine and flowers but the long-term benefits to these high profile, internationally important, highly designated sites is well worth the effort. WTSWW are very grateful to the players of Peoples Postcode Lottery for the funding which enables us to carry out this work now and into the future.

Opticron Open Day at Lockley Lodge

Opticron Display

If you’ve ever visited Skomer or Skokholm Islands you will know that a good pair of binoculars is a must-have in your backpack. Now you can sample the best of Opticron binoculars and more at Lockley Lodge on Saturday 2nd June. Whether you’re heading to the island or not, swing by Lockley Lodge visitor centre on the mainland at Martins Haven to try out the tech.

We will be accompanied by the very knowledgeable people from Opticron. They will be spending the day at our Island’s visitor centre showcasing some of their new range of binoculars, monoculars and scopes and giving people a chance to try before you buy. They’ll also be on hand for any questions that you might have about their products.

For more information call 01646636800.

Chris Packham’s Bio Blitz

Chris Packham’s Bioblitz Campaign is coming to The Wildlife Trust’s Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre and Cae Lynden Nature Reserve

Highlighting the State of Our Nation’s Wildlife

The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales is delighted to say that TV presenter and naturalist Chris Packham will be visiting our Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre in New Quay and Cae Lynden in Brecknock. His visit will be part of the first independent audit of its kind in the UK involving Citizen Science. His goal is to highlight the extent to which the nation’s species are under threat.

 

On Saturday 21st July he’ll becoming to Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre and Cae Lynden Nature Reserve, two of just 48 sites across the country that he’ll be stopping off at as part of his ‘UK Bioblitz – nature reserves are not enough!’ campaign.

Chris’s UK Bioblitz – nature reserves are not enough! campaign has a serious purpose, as the results of the 2018 audit will be recorded to create a benchmark: this will help measure the rise and fall in numbers of different species on these sites in the future.

Our Living Seas Team at Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre are aiming to record as many marine and coastal species as possible between 7am and 11pm on the 21st and we need your help! There will be a programme of activities throughout the day that you join in; from rock pooling to dolphin watching, bird walks, insect surveys and even a bat walk on the beach. All the species we record will contribute towards Chris’s nationwide campaign.

At Cae Lynden Nature Reserve our wildlife experts will be on site all day. Join in with the local wildlife surveys and record different species groups with other county recorders. It’s a great opportunity for you to see the work that we are doing in the local area and to see what our Wild Communities Project is all about.

Chris will be starting off in the Scottish Highlands on July 14th and from there, over the course of 10 days, he’ll weave his way across the UK, taking in Northern Ireland, Wales and parts of England along the route. All forms of life will be investigated in this snapshot of the country’s wildlife:  from flies to fungi, mammals to moths and birds to butterflies. At each site Chris and the UK Bioblitz team which includes 100’s of experts, young conservationists and film makers and people from all backgrounds and abilities will be helped by species specialists, alongside enthusiastic amateurs, to pinpoint the winners and losers in the battle for Britain’s countryside.

Chris Packham comments:

“I’m doing this because I want to highlight that the UK’s landscape is in big trouble. We should have a far greater expectation of having wildlife around us all of the time but sadly we find ourselves going to nature reserves”

 

The ultimate aim is to celebrate some conservation success stories, but also to flag up some of its failures.

Chris concludes:

“We treat them like they’re museums and art galleries, we go there, we get fully satisfied there’s lots of life, but on the way home when we’re driving through the countryside there’s nothing left. Some parts of it are absolutely bereft, they’re deserts, and what we want to do is say to people ‘that’s not good enough’. We want wildlife everywhere; nature reserves are not enough”

The campaign is also Crowd-funding with all monies raised being distributed back into grass roots front-line conservation projects they’ve visited throughout the campaign, as well as The National Autistic Society.

Visit www.chrispackham.co.uk to follow the Bioblitz

And join the Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/221259578624823/

Tracking Red Squirrels in Mid Wales

Red Squirrel using the feeder

Good news!

The feeder above Llanddewi Brefi has had regular red squirrel visitors again since mid-December 2017. In the last two and a half years since the feeder and camera were installed, this location has been a regular ‘haunt’ for reds. However, over the summer and autumn months, the frequency of visits dropped substantially and then petered out. However, the reds are back again and there is more than individual using the feeder. Volunteer and wildlife photographer Paul Harry has recorded some excellent footage of the red squirrels using this feeder which can be viewed here. The short video shows some interesting squirrel behaviour, including tail-wagging and, if you listen carefully, distinct calls. The photo opposite is captured from this footage.

Red Squirrel feeder above Llanddewi Brefi

Feeder with a Red Squirrel on it at Llanddewi Brefi.

Red Squirrel feeder above Llanddewi Brefi in daytime

Red Squirrel Feeder at Llanddewi Brefi

Paul has also been hard at work conducting a survey in the NRW-managed woodland Esgair Dafydd near Cynghordy. Back in October, we were excited to hear that Paul managed to get a red on camera in this forest, the first red spotted in this area for several years.  The 4-month survey using the standard method of a series of trail cameras trained on feeder boxes only produced footage of grey squirrels. The greys were quickly trapped and dispatched, but still no sign of the elusive reds.

The feeders and scatter-bait appeared to have been drawing grey squirrels into this woodland.  Then Paul had a brainwave; he noticed an area on the ground with several freshly-chewed cones, possible evidence that squirrels had been feeding in the area. One last camera was installed, pointing at the evidence, without the use of a feeder or ground bait.

Trail camera pointing to the ground

Trail camera pointing to the ground

The camera was left in a location for about 3 weeks, and when checked there were several photos of a red squirrel foraging on the ground.  Try and spot the red in the photo above.  We were intrigued to discover that a red squirrel had probably been present all along but did not use the feeders due to the presence of grey squirrels.  Grey squirrels tend to dominate food supplies; a dynamic that seems to have been at play during the course of this survey. The results from the Esgair Dafydd survey will inform future surveys in the Mid Wales Red Squirrel Focal Site, especially in woodlands around the edge of the focal site where grey squirrels are more likely to be present.  Paul is moving his survey efforts to the Irfon Forest soon and will be experimenting using ‘ground cams’ without feeders initially.
A survey is also ongoing in Blaen Rhisglog forest, located between Ffarmers and Cwrt Y Cadno. This site is just a ‘hop and a jump’ from Bryn Arau Duon, where there has been a known red squirrel population for many years.  Volunteer Rowena Mathews is shown here with Red Squirrel Officer Becky Hulme has been trudging through snow, rain and mud to the monitor camera traps on site.

Red Squirrel Officer Becky Hulme and volunteer Rowena Mathews

Red Squirrel Officer Becky Hulme and volunteer Rowena Mathews

Back in February whilst setting up the survey, Rowena was joined by a reporter from BBC Radio Wales who recorded an interview for the ‘Country Focus’ programme, great publicity for the Project.  We have only had jays, a tawny owl, badgers, rabbits and grey squirrels on camera to date.  Rowena is currently busy with lambing, so she has been following protocol to prevent the transfer of disease from grey to red squirrels and removing the food source when grey squirrels are identified. She intends to start trapping the grey squirrels soon and we will be experimenting with ‘ground cams’ at this site as well.

Volunteer Rhian Mai Hubbart has been ‘squirrelling away’ since mid-March monitoring camera traps at Clywedog, another NRW managed forest near to Llanfair Clydogau. Rhian is pictured here on the left along with Graduate Ecologist, Becky Blackman from Carmarthenshire County Council who helped to set up the survey. Rhian, who works at a horse and pony rescue centre is passionate about animals and is using her weekly day off work to undertake this survey.  To date, we’ve only had a roe deer on camera, but we know that red squirrels are active nearby so think that we are in with a good chance of finding reds on camera during the course of this survey.

Red Squirrel Volunteer Rhian May and Graduate Ecologist Becky Blackman

Red Squirrel Volunteer Rhian May and Graduate Ecologist Becky Blackman

The remote camera at Bryn Arau Duon, installed and monitored by pupils from Ysgol Dyffryn Aman continued to have visits from a pine marten family over the winter months. In February the camera was moved a short distance to near to where the forest manager, Huw Denman had been getting red squirrels on his trail camera. NRW Land Management Officer Russell Jones is shown here installing the feeder box in its new location.

NRW Land Management Officer, Russell Jone, installing a red squirrel feeder

NRW Land Management Officer, Russell Jone, installing a red squirrel feeder

Judging from the quantity of pine marten scats in the vicinity, it was not surprising when a pine marten started paying regular visits to this feeder again.  However, at the end of March, we were excited to discover that a red squirrel has also been using this feeder!

Red Squirrel using the feeder

Red Squirrel using the feeder

The length of visits to the feeder have been short, and infrequent, but this seems to be in line with research carried out in Scotland on red squirrel behaviour in the presence of pine martens.  Reds are known to visit feeders that are being used by pine martens, but they will be on the look-out for this squirrel-predator and, being cautious, will not hang around for too long. The Red Squirrel Officer is currently liaising with an
MA student with an interest in interactions between pine martens and red squirrels. We hope that research into the dynamic between red squirrels and pine martens in mid-Wales might help us to develop suitable survey techniques for tracking red squirrels in the presence of pine martens.

RHS Flower Show 2018

Virtual Reality at RHS 2018
RHS Rain Garden

RHS Garden

Well, another show is done and dusted for another year. We had an absolutely glorious time at the annual Royal Horticultural Society’s Flower Show in Cardiff. We enjoyed meeting lots of lovely new people and seeing some of our members and supporters.

This year’s garden was a rain garden. And boy did the rain come in bucket loads! It has been the wettest show we have done so far and it came with its challenges. During the show build up most of our pitch, including the inside of our gazebo, remained flooded. It wasn’t until the day before the show that the council managed to drain the water from our site.

The aim of our rain garden was to encourage people to bring sustainable draining systems into their gardens to decrease the risk of flooding in urban areas, prevent pollution and help local wildlife. Rain gardens all share a common goal; to capture water in a beautiful and wildlife-friendly way!

Our rivers are under a huge amount of stress in the UK, with increased urbanisation changing the natural flow of water, leading to increased water pollution and flooding. By creating a rain garden, also known as a Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) you can improve your local area for wildlife.

Elements of the garden included a shed with a green roof that had a downpipe fitted which fed water from the roof into a water butt. A green roof will half the amount of water that ends up trickling off a roof and flowing down a drain. The water butt can then harvest the wastewater from the roof and guttering which can then be reused to water garden plants, wash cars and even be used in your washing machine. The water butt was kindly supplied by Celtic Sustainables.

In the centre of the garden we had a beautiful, solar powered water feature that was kindly lent to us by Water Features 2 Go. This stunning, stone centrepiece gave the garden a lovely tranquil feeling.

To the side of our garden we had a willow hedgehog woven by South Wales Basket Weavers. A rain garden would attract slugs which in turn would attract hedgehogs so, we thought that this was an appropriate willow sculpture for a rain garden.

Other elements that we had in the rain garden included a fantastic array of pond and blog plants from Puddle Plants Nursery. These included the native Marsh marigolds, Snakes head fritillary, Raged robin, Cuckoo flower, Brookline, Water avens and more.

We also displayed a wildlife-friendly pond, a glass front planter to show the levels and materials that can be used for a sustainable drainage system and our Wildlife Trust moss sign.

During the show we had our Virtual Reality Experiences out for people to have a go of. They could either do our Dolphin Dive experience or our Flight of the Kingfisher experience.

RHS Garden Build RHS Garden Build Water Butt at RHS Flooded Gazebo at the RHS RHS Garden Build WTSWW Sign Water Features 2 Go Fountain RHS Rain Garden RHS Shop Stall Puddle Plants Virtual Reality at RHS 2018 Willow Hedgehog at RHS 2018
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Celtic Sustainables Water Butt

We would like to thank everyone who helped us to make the garden a success and to all our sponsors as well as players of the People’s Postcode Lottery. It’s important for us to have a presence at shows like these to ensure that continued awareness is raised for our conservation projects and to rally support for the vital work we do to protect local wildlife for the future.

We hope to see you at the show next year and if you would like information about becoming a member of the trust (if you aren’t already) you can visit the membership page.

Events at Parc Slip this February

Parc Slip Nature Reserve and Visitor Centre is one of The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales’ flagship nature reserves. It is nestled in the heart of Bridgend and a mere 6 minutes off Junction 36 of the M4.

If you haven’t visited yet, we would highly recommend that you make a trip to this beautifully wild reserve a priority for 2018.

At this time of year, the reserve is starting to show signs of blooming life as we edge closer and closer to spring. Lapwing have been seen flying over the reserve and we had our first one land on the wetlands just beyond the Northern Wetlands Hide.

During February the centre will play host to a variety of exciting events to suit everyone. Some of these include the amazing beasts of Parc Slip walk, den building and animal lunch box making, wildlife watch for the young and budding conservationists and virtual reality experiences and self-led crafts.

We also have a new heritage trail that opened up last year. Pop into the visitor centre cafe to grab yourself a trail map. There’s a choice of either a short or long walk. And then explore the heritage of this astounding nature reserve, previously an open cast coal mine, and keep an eye out for our beautifully crafted totem poles along the way.

Take a look at our events page to find Parc Slip events and other Wildlife Trust events happening around South and West Wales.

Merry Christmas

e-Christmas Card - Owl flying
e-Christmas Card - Owl flying

Christmas is a time of reflection and an opportunity to look forward, so we wanted to take this opportunity to thank all of our members who have supported us this year.

Many of you help us with a monthly donation, so many of you show us your support by turning up to events, volunteering or getting involved with Local Groups. Without all of you there simply would be no Trust.

We also want to thank all of our volunteers who help us daily from managing habitats to mending vehicles, all of you are valued and appreciated.

Thank you to everyone who stepped up last month when we faced the terrible news about our islands and the damage done by the winter storms. You all helped us fundraise enough to start the repair work in the new year.

And so looking forward into the new year there are some exciting projects coming up which we can’t wait to get you involved with. For example we have a years worth of challenges to improve your garden for wildlife for, why not get involved and make a happy new year for your local wildlife.

So thank you and from all of us at The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales, we want to wish you a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

The Wildlife Trust’s Wonderful Wintery Walks on Gower

South Gower Coast - rocks looking over the ocean

Chances are, if you live on Gower, you’ll know all about the amazing wild places the peninsula has to offer, from wild coastal beaches to ancient bluebell woodlands. But did you know that lots of these wildlife havens are managed by The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales?

We manage over 30 nature reserves in the Swansea area, a number of which can be found on Gower and we want to use this opportunity to tell you about some of them that you can enjoy this winter!

Gelli Hir

If you are looking for a family-friendly place, then the beautiful Gelli Hir Wood, near Three Crosses, is a must. A large ancient woodland; with a pond as an added bonus, it has large safe paths for walking, muddy ‘off-road’ routes to test out your wellies and lots of logs and ditches for children to play on, over and under! As a reserve that’s so important for woodland birds, dragonflies and butterflies, it’s definitely worth taking your binoculars and seeing what wildlife you can spot!

South Gower Coast Nature Reserves

Another Wildlife Trust recommended place to go for a wild windy walk is the South Gower Coast Nature Reserves. From Port Eynon you can walk up and over the point and along the cliff paths. Keep an eye out for Peregrine Falcons, Chough, Seals in the ocean and there are caves a-plenty! Home to exceedingly rare coastal plants such as Yellow Whitlow-Grass and Goldilocks Aster, these are very important nature reserves. This winter The Wildlife Trust will be introducing some grazing animals to Overton Mere to help manage the grassland for these rare plants. Keep an eye out for our friendly cattle and ponies.

Cwm Ivy Woods

For a walk with a café nearby, head to Cwm Ivy Woods near Llanmadoc. Another lovely woodland reserve with beautiful views over Cwm Ivy Marsh, the gate can be seen from the lane down to Cwm Ivy.

Elizabeth and Rowe Harding Nature Reserve

Another very interesting nature reserve is the Elizabeth and Rowe Harding Nature Reserve, otherwise known as Ilston Quarry, which is protected for the importance of its geological features. A lovely hazel wood surrounds the quarry and plenty of evidence can be found of the old quarry workings.

Broad Pool

Lastly, did you know the iconic Broad Pool is also a Wildlife Trust nature reserve? This site is important for amphibians, dragonflies and Otters, which feed in the pool.

Lots more information about all these nature reserves, plus Wildlife Trust events that take place on Gower, can be found on our website.

If you would like to support the trust and our work managing the beautiful wild places of Gower you can do so by becoming a member via our website or by ringing 01656 724100.

Lapwing Habitat Management

Lapwing-by-Phil-Bennington.jpg

Parc Slip Nature Reserve continues its habitat management for lapwing each winter while the birds are absent from the reserve. Conservation work parties have started up again and we wanted to welcome anyone who would like to, to come along and help out.

The work parties will be running every Friday from 5th January until spring.

As usual, we will be meeting outside Parc Slip’s visitor centre at 10am (aiming to finish at 12:30pm). And as always please bring wellies and waterproof trousers (if you have them). Equipment and biscuits will be provided.

If you’d like to know any more about these volunteering sessions please contact Meg; People and Wildlife Officer for Parc Slip.

We hope to see you Friday!

A Close Call for Red Squirrels in North Wales

Red squirrel looking down at the camera from a branch above

Fears for the safety of the red squirrel population on Anglesey were raised after a red squirrel, shown here, was found dead on the Island with a suspected case of squirrel pox virus. This followed findings of two other red squirrels found dead on the mainland, one in Coed Mor near to the Britannia bridge. Both were confirmed as positive for squirrel pox virus. The virus is usually fatal in red squirrels and if it had spread it could have potential to lead to the elimination of the population on the island.  Fortunately, laboratory tests found that the red squirrel found on Anglesey was negative for squirrel pox.

Grey squirrels are carriers of the virus and can spread the disease to red squirrels. Greys, however, have developed immunity to the disease. The concern was that the virus could have spread from the mainland as the squirrels can travel back and forth to and from Anglesey.  There is a risk of an outbreak of squirrel pox virus in any red squirrel population in areas where grey squirrels are also present.

In mid-Wales, tests carried out several years ago revealed that squirrel pox virus was present in over 50% of the grey squirrels tested.   This is one of the main reasons why all volunteers undertaking red squirrel monitoring in mid-Wales keep a regular check on feeder activity to ensure that grey squirrels are not visiting the same feeders as reds.  If greys do visit feeders, the feeders are emptied and disinfected and only re-filled once the grey squirrel threat has been removed.

CBMWC Project Officer Post

Bottlenose Dolphins in the sea by Sarah Perry

We are currently advertising for a Project Officer to join the WTSWW team at Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre (CBMWC), New Quay, Ceredigion.

The deadline for this post if noon on the 2nd January and further details can be found on our jobs page.

We are looking for an energetic and outgoing person to join our Living Seas team. You will be responsible for the day to day operation and administration of CBMWC, this will include our Visitor Centre and shop as well as the day to day coordination, inductions and training of volunteers. You will lead the development, coordination and delivery of a programme of inspiring environmental education and community awareness activities linked to our Living Seas work, respond to queries and requests for marine conservation related talks and activities.

If you would like to apply please visit our jobs page.

Nature is Red in Tooth and Claw

Magpie walking along a fence

A piece by Rose Revera, People and Wildlife Officer for WTSWW;

‘Tho Nature’, red in tooth and claw’

Alfred Lord Tennyson’s In Memoriam A. H. H., 1850

In this edition of e-news, I’m going to take the opportunity to talk about a bugbear of mine. Fairly often, I will be talking to someone, or reading an article in a magazine or newspaper, and notice a tendency emerging to favour one species of wildlife over another.

Even wildlife lovers have told me how they don’t like Magpies because they raid other birds’ nests. Magpies and the rest of the corvid family are brilliant birds, no doubt about it. Intelligent, resourceful and stunning to watch, yet often damned for doing what comes naturally to them. Yes, they raid the nests of other birds, but I’m afraid that’s nature for you! It can be hard to watch, but the Magpies are wildlife as well as the small birds they sometimes prey on.

Another example is Badgers. They don’t need any more ammunition against them, yet I have recently read an article claiming that they should be culled because they eat Hedgehogs. Hedgehogs are much loved across the UK as garden visitors, but why do Hedgehogs have more right to life than Badgers, just because they are not top predators?

Worryingly, there is even a ‘wildlife conservation’ charity that lists corvids, Foxes, Badgers, Buzzards and Sparrowhawks, all native wildlife just doing what they should be, as a problem because they can predate on small birds.

There can be a moral dilemma for ecologists in some cases, where human activity has caused an imbalance. For example, a Lapwing breeding site in South Wales was experiencing high levels of predation by gulls due to the presence of a nearby rubbish tip, leading to an artificial boom in the population of gulls. In this case, conservationists made the difficult decision to cull the gulls to correct the imbalance and give the Lapwings a fighting chance.

Now I’m not including non-native species in this argument. In all cases, if the presence of a non-native species in a habitat threatens the health of a population of a native species e.g. in the case of the American Mink and the Water Vole, then all efforts should be made to remove the non-native species from the habitat to prevent the extinction of the native species.

But the biggest challenge we come up against time and time again is humanity’s ability to place ourselves at the top of the pile, above all other species. Beavers were present in the UK up until about 500 years ago when human activity led to their extinction in the UK. We are now trying to right this wrong and re-introduce Beavers to Wales, but when we were out promoting this recently with our Beaver mascot Nora, I had some uncomfortable conversations.

One person told me that they didn’t want Beavers back in Wales because they were a hobby angler and Beavers will be bad for fish stocks. Their main argument was that Beaver dams will block fish passage. While this can occur occasionally, Beavers have an overall positive effect on fish stocks due to increased habitat for spawning, rearing and overwintering, higher invertebrate production and refuges during high water flows [1, 2]. This particular person refused to accept the scientific evidence presented to him. But the main thing that grates on me is that this is an animal that should be present in the British countryside, yet there are people resisting its restoration back to its rightful home because it could occasionally get in the way of their part-time hobby. That’s just not fair.

So to conclude, all native UK species have their place in the habitats of Wales. Losing even one species from a habitat can have a significant effect on the health and ecology of the habitat. We need to remember this and know that however hard it is to watch a predator successfully catch its prey, that’s just nature and without it, the world would not function. Instead, let’s focus on how we can reduce our impact on the environment and make life a bit easier for the wildlife struggling to survive in Wales.

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4931505/

[2] http://www.snh.org.uk/pdfs/publications/commissioned_reports/349.pdf