So where to start? Hi everyone, my name is Laura and I will be working with WTSWW throughout 2014 as the Wildlife Sites Officer, based at The Nature Centre in Tondu. My main role will be helping to set up a new Local Wildlife Site network within Glamorgan, working in partnership with the Local Authorities, other NGOs and also Landowners who have some of the most important sites for wildlife in the area.
So what is a Local Wildlife Site? Basically they are areas rich in wildlife which have been identified and selected for their wildlife value. Selection takes into consideration important, distinctive and threatened habitats and species. They can vary in size, shape and habitat type and can include wildlife rich ponds, heaths, wetlands and ancient woodlands and grasslands.
Why should we have them? Well firstly Local Wildlife Sites are very important as they lie outside of the statutory protected network of sites such as Special Sites of Scientific Importance (SSSIs), so although there are no legal obligations attached to them, they will still be flagged up as important for wildlife in development planning, affording them some protection. In addition, many of these valuable sites are lost, most probably on a yearly basis, because some landowners are not aware of their importance or don’t know how they need to be managed sympathetically for nature. This is where WTSWW will be stepping in…
This is initially a one year pilot project funded by the Welsh Government Resilient Ecosystem Fund in partnership with Natural Resources Wales, Gwent Wildlife Trust, Local Authorities in SE Wales, Welsh Biodiversity Partnership, Bumblebee Conservation and SEWBReC. Wildlife sites will be identified using previously recognised Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINCs) that have been discovered by local authorities and from past historical survey information. There will be an emphasis on grassland and heathland habitats in particular and management advice will be provided to ensure they are being looked after well and with wildlife in mind, which will mean lots of lovely parcels of land for some of our rarest or most threatened species in Wales.
I am hoping that by the end of 2014 a number of Local Wildlife Sites will have been identified and that the landowners will, if not already, be managing them favourably in order to maintain and/or start creating corridors for wildlife to migrate and disperse throughout the county.