Wyeswood Project Ends - Well Sort Of!

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From the Gwent Wildlife Trust newsletter, Wild About Gwent - Jan 2012

Wyeswood CommonLast April, the Wyeswood Common Project came to an end. Of course, in terms of the future restoration of the reserve, we are only at the beginning! But now that the initial fully-funded phase of the project is complete, it’s a good time to reflect on the achievements of the last three years.

Just before I joined GWT in May 2008, a phenomenal and quite unprecedented fundraising effort brought in a total of approximately £636,000 (and change!). This was enough for GWT to buy Wyeswood Common, fund the project for three years and kick-start the envisaged habitat restoration.

In summary, the long term aim of the project is to re-create wood pasture, a varied mosaic of grazed grassland, woodland and scrub supporting an abundance of wildlife. 

In the short term, our focus has been to:

  • remove nutrients from the highly-fertilised grassland by cutting for hay and silage
  • re-introduce wildflowers via seed collected from Pentwyn Farm
  • recreate new woodland and re-connect existing woodland and scrub
  • re-introduce grazing to open up the grassland and allow space for wildflower seeds to establish

Over the last three years we have:

  • removed over 1,000 bales of hay and silage
  • put 33 hectares of grassland into restoration
  • surveyed 450 grassland quadrats (1m2 sampling areas)
  • taken 180 soil samples
  • applied around 2 kilograms of wildflower seed from Pentwyn Farm onto Wyeswood Common, covering an area of approximately 1 hectare
  • planted 8,240 trees, creating 6.3 hectares of new woodland
  • created 250 metres of new hedgerow to add to the existing 3 kilometre network
  • put up 900 metres of deer fencing and 3,850 metres of stock fencing
  • laid 1,440 metres of water pipe and added 3 new troughs
  • grazed 390 sheep and reared 55 lambs

As for the amount of sheep escaped – no comment!

In addition to our work for wildlife, we have also made improvements to the public access facilities to make the reserve more visitor-friendly. Three new interpretation panels have just been erected to complement a 2.7km way-marked trail, taking in Wyeswood Common and Pentwyn Farm. Seventy metres of dry-stone wall has been restored in the area around the medieval barn with several tonnes of stone lying in wait for a further 25 metres to be rebuilt later in the year.

Last, but by no means least, is the contribution to the project made by volunteers. Over a thousand volunteer hours have been clocked since the project commenced, of which approximately 850 has comprised practical work on the reserve.

Naturally, we have also done a good deal of surveying and monitoring to establish a baseline for the conservation interest in the site, which we know will improve in time. Several hundred hours of volunteer time spent surveying has produced many new records for Wyeswood Common including dormice, grass snakes and tree pipits. We also can’t forget the numerous hours spent by our volunteer shepherds checking for escapees, as well as the support given by volunteers at events and in the office at Seddon House.

I would like to thank everyone who has made the project a success and I look forward to continuing the good work we have all started.

Annette Murray, Wyeswood Common Project Officer