Saving Priors Meadow – the project draws to a close

Prior’s Wood and Meadow comprises 12.1 hectares of secondary broadleaved woodland and 5.3 hectares of meadow

Prior’s Wood and Meadow comprises 12.1 hectares of secondary broadleaved woodland and 5.3 hectares of meadow

The project has been a great success! 🙂

Our dedicated volunteers hard at work on the reserve!

Our dedicated volunteers hard at work on the reserve!

Through the last 18 months our Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales (WTSWW) conservation team and volunteers based in Swansea have been busy delivering the project Saving Priors Meadow. We were lucky to be awarded funding by Welsh Government’s Landfill Disposal Tax Community Scheme, administered by the Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA), for a project to focus on protecting the existing hay meadow and surroundings at Priors Wood & Meadow Nature Reserve.

The aim of the project was to protect the meadow habitat, reduce scrub encroachment, improve the infrastructure to enable future sustainable management of the meadow by installing new fencing, upgrading the management access track and creating a new pond (to provide water for grazing livestock) and to engage and educate the community who use the meadow.

We were able to engage volunteers in learning vegetation survey techniques, fencing, scrub clearance, hedgelaying and hedgerow restoration. The funding has also enabled us to have a monitoring programme designed by a specialist ecologist and to bring in contractors for some of the bigger grassland restoration elements.

The project has been a great success, the scrub encroachment on the meadow edges was really threatening to reduce the area of the floristcally diverse grassland, the biggest problem being that is had got too rough to be cut with hay mowers and each year we lost at least 3 metres on the margins right around the 2.3ha meadow. This year we regained that lost ground and with repeated maintenance the area of meadow will be restored.

Covid-19 lockdown meant the cancellation of this summers’ volunteer engagement. Luckily we had delivered most of the practical work before March 2020. Unfortunately we missed the opportunity for volunteers to practice their survey skills this summer but with the easing of the restrictions (and thanks to the flexibility of the funders) we were able to finish on a high, green hay seeding areas of previously scrubby or rank grassland to encourage greater spread of hay meadow plants. This had not been part of the initial project design but it has been a bonus that we have been able to deliver. We have also been able to purchase equipment to enable on going benefits for the meadow.

We are now arranging for the winter grazing to be carried out by Cow Clubs’ Dexter cattle, the conservation grazing, shared ownership group currently grazing The Dranges Nature Reserve.

We would like to thank the funders and all the volunteers and community members involved in the project.