Scything Bracken and Pulling Ragwort

Himalayan balsam control by Lizzie Wilberforce

Himalayan balsam control by Lizzie Wilberforce

The Carmarthenshire volunteer group has spent most of the summer months battling some of our more competitive and successful plants, both native and non native.

We have been repeatedly scything bracken in areas of Carmel where rolling is impossible, in an attempt to weaken it at it’s rhizome.

At Castle Woods we have been pulling the incredibly invasive Himalayan balsam to stop it from outcompeting the native woodland flora.

We have also been out and about on several reserves keeping paths open by cutting back the encroaching bramble.

Ragwort has been pulled at Carmel on fields that are managed as hay meadows. Whilst recognising ragwort is, in some cases, vital for invertebrates who feed on it, as well as an important nectar source, it can be a problem for grazing animals when eaten.

Most animals are aware to avoid it and have been doing so for millennia. The problem mainly seems to derive from when it has been dried as it becomes more palatable. We have therefore made the decision to leave some ragwort but to try to control it on fields that would be cut for hay or silage.

A holding pen has been built at Rhos Cefn Bryn, this is important in enabling the site to continue to be grazed. With increased restrictions on cattle movement and TB testing becoming more prevalent, we have to look at putting infrastructure onto our sites to enable this to happen.

Thanks to Carmarthenshire County Councils’ Mynydd Mawr Marsh Fritillary project who funded materials needed to build the pen, and project officer Amanda Evans who helped us build it on a very wet day in July.

Cinnabar moth caterpillar on ragwort Zsuzsanna Bird