The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales acquired a new nature reserve in the form of Carmel National Nature Reserve, Carmarthenshire, during the summer of 2013. This followed a period of uncertainty for the site following the liquidation of The Grasslands Trust, who managed it previously. This magnificent site is already a haven for wildlife- but we need to act fast to make up for the loss of management while its future was being decided. We need your help to develop its full potential and turn Carmel into a flagship nature reserve for the heart of Carmarthenshire. Your donation will match funds from GrantScape and allow us to do even more for wildlife and visitors. Listen to our podcast about why this site is so important.
It’s really quick and easy to make a donation. You can either make a donation over the phone by speaking to one of our membership team, Jon, Nicola or Jane on 01656 724100 or you can download our appeal form and return it with your donation to: Carmel Appeal, WTSWW, The Nature Centre, Fountain Road, Tondu, Bridgend CF32 0EH
How will your donation help?
- Surveys and monitoring of the recently-discovered Dormouse population, and management of woodlands and hedgerows for them
- Improving the species-rich meadows and woodlands for rare plants such as Herb Paris, Lily-of-the-valley and Greater Butterfly Orchids, and for the wide diversity of bees
- Removing non-native species such as Cotoneaster that threaten the survival of the limestone grassland around the quarry
- Scrub and bracken have quickly spread through the site while its future was being decided and the meadows will suffer if we don’t act quickly. Rebecca, our new Wildlife Trust Officer for Carmarthenshire, and our volunteers will be working especially hard over the next few years to make up for the loss of management.
- This is a fantastic nature reserve for people, but to allow everyone to fully enjoy Carmel’s wildlife, we will also need to invest in access improvements such as waymarkers, path improvements, and information about where and when to go.
This beautiful and diverse site close to the village of Carmel near Llandeilo is a mosaic of flower-rich unimproved limestone meadows, semi-improved haymeadows and broadleaf woodlands. It is open to the public thanks to a network of permissive trails.
In fact, it is not entirely ‘new’ to us: the Trust in west Wales has had a long history of association with this important site, which is also protected as a Special Area of Conservation. In 1990, it was threatened with destruction by a 1940s planning permission that granted quarrying rights, and which took legal precedence even over the SSSI status granted in 1986. The then Dyfed Wildlife Trust took up the cause and together with our UK umbrella body (then RSNC) and other Trusts, raised over £12,000 to help fight the quarrying rights in court.
By 1996, thanks to the hard work of the many partners and local residents involved, the site was saved. It subsequently became a Grasslands Trust nature reserve.
In 2012, The Grasslands Trust sadly went into liquidation, putting the future of this amazing site once more into jeopardy. However the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW) quickly stepped in, and with further substantial funding from GrantScape and CWM Environmental Ltd (who had previously funded much conservation work on the site), was able to purchase the land from the owners, Tarmac.
WTSWW now holds a long term lease of the site from Natural Resources Wales (previously CCW). Happily, we are also receiving further grant support from GrantScape for our immediate conservation priorities at the reserve. The lease ensures that we will be managing some 50 hectares of the National Nature Reserve with the remainder of the reserve (approx. 30 hectares) continuing to be directly managed by Natural Resources Wales.
Carmel is a fantastic addition to our portfolio of nature reserves for many reasons. Its limestone bedrock makes it relatively unusual for west Wales. It also has a fascinating cultural history, visible in the limestone quarries and limekilns.
The nature reserve is a great place to go walking and wildlife spotting. Botanical interest includes good displays of Greater Butterfly Orchids in June-July in the western fields, and Lily-of-the-valley in the eastern woodlands. Lily-of-the-valley is an indicator of ancient woodlands and the wild form is much smaller than the cultivated version most people are used to. The flower-rich habitats are also a haven for a wide diversity of native bees and butterflies. Dormice have recently been found on the reserve, and bats use the limestone caves.
What do we want to do?
We know we will need to undertake key such as a conservation grazing programme, and hay cuts to maintain and restore the wildflower meadows. We will also be undertaking coppicing and woodland management. Dormice have recently been found on the site and we want to undertake more survey and monitoring work for this important species. The water supply requires extension and the existing troughs need repairing to support cattle grazing. New tools are needed to undertake the woodland management and to undertake the hedgelaying required.
To be able to manage this large new site in addition to the other Carmarthenshire reserves, we have also appointed a new full time Carmarthenshire officer, Rebecca Killa, who previously has been working with our team based on Gower. Considerable extra effort will be required in the first year to make up for the effect of the months between ownership when the reserve was not actively managed- bracken and scrub need to be cut to help maintain the area of species rich grassland.
The public access requires considerable investment, including waymarkers and path improvements. A number of trees have fallen blocking the paths and these need clearing and making safe. New signage, leaflets and information about the reserve will also be required for the benefit of WTSWW members and other visitors.