From the archive: Carmel nature reserve, 30 years on!

Carmel Nature Reserve

Carmel Nature Reserve

Join us as we take a trip down memory lane...

Dyfed Wildlife Trust membership magazine, thirty years ago- Bulletin number 52, April 1990.

Dyfed Wildlife Trust membership magazine, thirty years ago- Bulletin number 52, April 1990.

The strange world of lockdown has prompted us to spend time taking a bit of a journey back through our publications archive. We thought it was a great opportunity to re-visit and share some of the work the Trust has done in the past, and the paths by which those foundations have led us to where we are now.

This month we thought we’d share the front cover article from the Dyfed Wildlife Trust membership magazine, thirty years ago- Bulletin number 52, April 1990.

The major story of the day was peril for Carmel SSSI in Carmarthenshire, which was threatened with quarrying. At the time it was in private ownership. Now, as our members will be aware, one part of this large, important wildlife-rich landscape is a jewel in the crown of WTSWW nature reserves- owned by Natural Resources Wales and leased to WTSWW for management since 2013. Natural Resources Wales themselves manage another part of this large protected site.

The 1990 article is reproduced below. Over the years following this publication, a successful local community action (in which the Trust was heavily involved) contested the proposals for quarrying, and saved the site from destruction. The land received European protection as a Special Area of Conservation, and part of it was also made a National Nature Reserve.

What a difference thirty years makes, and what a conservation success story for all of those involved, in the local community, and in the voluntary and statutory conservation sectors.

National Treasure Threatened by Quarrying – April 1990

Carmel Woods, of international importance for its wildlife, could well disappear if Alfred McAlpine Quarries Limited carry out plans to extend their quarrying operations.
Although the woodland was designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest in December 1986, an ancient planning permission known as an Interim Development Order of 31 March 1948 has precedence. The IDO was to have been contested in the High Court by Dyfed County Council, but this action has now been suspended. It is highly likely that this will be taken up in some other way in which case members will be kept fully informed.
The rolling limestone ridge, just south-east of the village of Carmel near Llandybie, contains a mosaic of woodland, rocky outcrops and pasture. Ash is dominant with Oak only common on the lower slopes. There is a very diverse shrub layer with Hazel predominant, together with species like Dogwood, Buckthorn, Spindle, Wild Clematis, and Yew which is scarce as a native plant in Wales. The nationally rare Mezereon occurs here at one of its few locations in Wales.

Other notable plants include the exotic Herb Paris, Lily-of-the-Valley, now unusual in the wild, and the ghostly Toothwort. In deep shade where a thicker humus has accumulated, Yellow Bird’s Nest Orchid can be found.

A number of scarce invertebrates occur including a harvest-spider and a local robberfly of predatory habits. The Pearl-bordered Fritillary – a declining species in Great Britain, the local Brimstone, and Marbled White butterflies are recorded.

There is no question that Carmel Woods is of importance for its wildlife, not just in Wales, not just in Great Britain, but internationally. Can it receive the protection which it justifies?

Dr Lizzie Wilberforce