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National Park conservation scheme helps establish the Bug Farm’s new wildflower meadow

Wildflower seeds from a former World War II airfield have been used to create a new native hay meadow at Dr Beynon’s Bug Farm near St Davids.

The Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority’s Conserving the Park scheme funded the collection of seed from the wildflower-rich hay meadows of St Davids Airfield.

The top of the crop seed was gathered by Pembrokeshire-based Wyndrush Wild using a brush harvester and the seed was then dried. Meanwhile, an acre of ryegrass monoculture was grazed by The Bug Farm’s Tyddewi Herd of Welsh Black cattle before the plot was harrowed, the seeds sown by hand and the land rolled.

Wildflower seeds were collected from the wildflower-rich hay meadows of St Davids Airfield, which is owned by the National Park Authority. Photo © Vicky Swann/Wyndrush Wild.
Wildflower seeds were collected from the wildflower-rich hay meadows of St Davids Airfield, which is owned by the National Park Authority. Photo © Vicky Swann/Wyndrush Wild.

National Park Authority Biodiversity Officer, Sarah Mellor said: “It’s great to have been able to use the airfield as a ‘wildflower ark’ to propagate another meadow, especially as The Bug Farm is located so close by.

“The airfield’s most notable species include the southern marsh orchid alongside an array of other pollinator-friendly plants such as black knapweed, bird’s foot trefoil and oxeye daisy.

“This year the airfield was home to more than 60 pairs of skylarks. We hope that this new meadow will be as successful in producing and attracting such rare flora and fauna.”

The Bug Farm’s Tyddewi Herd Welsh Black cattle grazed the site before the seeds were sown. Photo © Dr Beynon’s Bug Farm.
The Bug Farm’s Tyddewi Herd Welsh Black cattle grazed the site before the seeds were sown. Photo © Dr Beynon’s Bug Farm.

The airfield, which has been owned by the Park Authority since the mid-1990s, features one of the largest neutral grasslands in the county and the heathlands at the northern end are a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

The Conserving the Park scheme works to reinstate a network of wildlife-friendly corridors within the National Park, offering a range of help, advice and practical assistance to landowners. The scheme has been in operation for nearly 20 years.

Once the acre of land was ready, the dried wildflower seeds were sown by hand. Photo © Dr Beynon’s Bug Farm.
Once the acre of land was ready, the dried wildflower seeds were sown by hand. Photo © Dr Beynon’s Bug Farm.

Dr Sarah Beynon added: “It is wonderful that the National Park Authority is helping us with our initiative to create a habitat corridor between two of the most important wildlife habitats on the peninsula, the St Davids Airfield Heaths SSSI and the Dowrog Common SSSI.

“We were honoured to win the Plantlife International Meadow Maker of the Year for Wales in 2015 when we started this project and we have already had rare insects, such as the small red damselfly, using the corridor, as well as rare plants, such as three-lobed water crowfoot, starting to move across the farm. This new meadow will make the corridor even more robust, enabling more wildlife to use The Bug Farm to move between the two habitats.

“The new meadow is part of our Bug Farm Trail, meaning that visitors can explore it and watch it develop over the years.”

Both Wyndrush Wild and Dr Beynon’s Bug Farm have received funding from the Authority via the Sustainable Development Fund. For more information on the fund and how to apply visit www.pembrokeshirecoast.wales/sdf.

Published 03 November 2017


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