This winter has seen the return of the practice of burning to help manage the mosaic of habitats found on Dowrog Common nature reserve.
It has been almost 20 years since this management practice was last implemented. Over the years, parts of the common have suffered from the lack of suitable grazing enabling scrubby species such as gorse and dense swades of leggy heather to smother valuable areas of open habitat.
These open areas are important to over 350 species of flowering plant that include the Lesser butterfly orchid and Yellow centaury.
An eager, yet cautious team of volunteers all armed with fire beaters and face shields took control and areas separated by a network of fire breaks were burned. The weather conditions were just right and the burn was successful.
Some may argue too successful as towards the end of the ‘programmed’ burn, a gust of wind caused embers to jump a firebreak and take hold on an area not destined to be burnt this year.
None-the-less, the amazing volunteers of the Wildlife Trust (along with assistance from the fire brigade!) eventually managed to get the burn under control before the dark set in.
You can never predict what can happen with a burn yet be prepared for things to not go as planned!
These burnt areas should now allow key flora species a better chance to re-establish themselves and survey work will be done to monitor progress.
Nathan Walton, Wildlife Trust Officer for Pembrokeshire