Saving Priors Meadow – Project Update

Our Saving Priors Meadow project team have been busy continuing the vital work to manage and improve Priors Meadow, Gower.

Paul Thornton, Senior Wildlife Trust Officer responsible for the delivery of the project is delighted to provide an update on the excellent work of his team of staff and volunteers.

It has been busy times since I last wrote about this project for the newsletter. Once we had all the dates agreed for the Great Crested Newt licence we had a good plan for hitting major milestones in the project delivery.

The first element was upgrading the access track, it might not sound like a conservation action but without good access future hay cuts and grazing would be in jeopardy. We employed a local contractor (who had built a very resilient track for us in Gelli Hir in 2017) who brought in 650t of aggregate and the machinery required to build 700m of track.

It’s always a balance between leaving the meadow long enough for most of the flowers to have set seed and benefit pollinators and getting the hay cut while the weathers good. This year we had another reason to leave the crop uncut even if the weather was good, local ecologist Deborah Sazer was designing a monitoring programme especially for our meadow. She then ran a number of “hay meadow monitoring” workshops on Priors Meadow, including one especially for our volunteers and others from the community who are interested in helping us monitor changes in flora across the meadow and now have the skills needed.

The weather appeared to be breaking but we managed to get the hay cut in a brief spell of dry weather early August.

With the hay cut we were into preparing the site for the fencing contractors to do their thing. There were many volunteer days clearing the fence line of vegetation and stripping staples out of posts & rolling up old wire for removal. As we moved from bird nesting season some of the heavier habitat management work could be carried out. An over-stood hedge was coppiced as part of its restoration and woody scrub was cleared from the meadow. Contractors then re-fenced the meadow and cut and collected the bramble and scrub from the, rather too large, headlands in a hope we can restore some of these areas back to species rich grassland.

We are now focussing our attentions on other reserves until December when we plan to plant a mix of young trees into the coppiced hedgerow and continue the hedge-laying we began last winter. In January we will have the exciting addition of two new ponds to the meadow.

Keep an eye on our e-newsletters for further updates.

You can read more about Priors Wood here, or contact Paul on p.thornton@welshwildlife.org