Intensive care for limestone home of Wales’ rarest
A rare and threatened wildlife habitat in mid
Wales gets intensive care this month to help it become a bustling
haven for butterflies once again.
Pearl-bordered Fritillary - Boloria euphrosyne by Alastair Hotchkiss ©CCW
Llanymynech Works by Alastair Hotchkiss ©CCW
Large areas of Llanymynech Hill in Montgomeryshire will be
cleared of dense scrub and trees, as a first step to restoring the
open limestone habitat as it was many decades ago. Such open,
sunlit conditions are vital for the survival of some of Wales’
rarest butterflies and lime-loving plants.
Llanymynech Rocks – a Site of Special Scientific Interest
(SSSI), largely owned and managed by the Montgomeryshire Wildlife
Trust and Llanymynech Golf Club - boasts many species of butterfly,
including pearl-bordered fritillary, small pearl-bordered
fritillary, grizzled skipper, dingy skipper and green hairstreak.
The clearance work will give them a stronger foothold on the site
for years to come.
The work is being undertaken by local contractors as well as the
wildlife trust and the golf club. Working horses are used to drag
out ash trees from some sections - they can reach inaccessible and
sometimes very steep places that would be impossible for a
mechanised vehicle. And horses won’t damage the surrounding land
including the golf course.
The clearance work is being funded by the Welsh Government and
managed by the Countryside Council for Wales. Conservation Officer
Alastair Hotchkiss said: “Historical photos from the last few
decades, coupled with anecdotal evidence, suggest that the area of
open limestone has greatly reduced – especially since the 1970’s
when grazing stopped completely allowing dense bracken, scrub and
young trees to take over.
“The Welsh Government’s special biodiversity grant means that we
can undertake large-scale clearance to bolster our small-scale
clearance efforts in the past. Once cleared, we will ensure that
appropriate grazing keeps the scrub at bay so that the species that
love the open limestone conditions flourish once again and become a
spectacle for all to enjoy.”
CCW are very grateful to Llanymynech Golf Club and the
Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust for their support with this
initiative and for the work of Carnog Working Horses and all the
other local contractors involved.
Llanymynech’s rare plants include Spring cinquefoil, Autumn
ladies-tresses, English whitebeam, yellow-wort, fragrant orchid,
rock-rose, autumn gentian and calamint.
Pearl Bordered Fritillaries….Wales’ rarest butterfly.
There are less than 10 populations of Pearl Bordered Fritillary
butterflies left in Wales, the majority of which are in
Montgomeryshire. This butterfly was reintroduced to Llanymynech in
2009 after being declared extinct around 2002. This work will
greatly increase its chances of survival. The Pearl Bordered
Fritillary gets its name from the series of "pearls" that run along
the outside edge of the underside of its wings. It is one of the
earliest butterflies to come out after the winter, usually around
late April, and the adults soon disappear by mid-May, to spend the
rest of the year as caterpillars eating violets.
Why does biodiversity matter?
We share our planet with around 13 million other species. The
huge variety of plants and animals around the world provide us with
the food we eat, fuel to keep warm, medicine – even the air we
breathe; essentials we can’t live without.
The decline of invertebrates is ignored at our peril. They are
essential to pollinate wild and cultivated plants, in the recycling
of nutrients and soil formation, for pest control, and as food for
our more familiar birds and mammals.
For more information contact CCW Press Officers, Helen Evans on
07717225589 or Brân Devey on 02920 772 403.
NOTES TO EDITORS
The Countryside Council for Wales is a Welsh Government
Sponsored Body, working for a better Wales where everyone values
and cares for our natural environment. More information about our
work is available on www.ccw.gov.uk