Wales is home to a vast range
of species. However, the destruction of habitats and the
invasion of non-native species present major challenges.
Wales is rightly proud of its abundance of wildlife, with important
species such as the iconic Snowdon lily. Yet its biodiversity has
been reduced by human activity.
The Welsh countryside underwent huge changes in the 20th
- Much of our native woodland, of birch, oak and other
broad-leaved trees, was felled or converted to conifer
- Most of the flower-rich meadows that once teemed with
- Small wetlands were drained.
- The formerly extensive purple heathlands colouring stretches of
the coast were reduced to fragments.
- Large areas of moorland and hill grassland were lost due to
agricultural intensification and the planting of conifers – though
this has started to decline.
The impact of these changes on many species was catastrophic.
Agriculturally improved grassland – now accounting for nearly half
the area of Wales – contains so few plant species that it supports
5 of the butterfly species in Wales died out in the last
century. Other species such as brown hares, water voles and
lapwings declined enormously.
Wales’s biodiversity is further threatened by
invasive non-native species. For example, the rhododendron prevents
sapling trees from growing. Without young trees, broad-leaved
woodland – one of our richest wildlife habitats – cannot
The break up of remaining habitats into fragments has taken its
toll on wildlife. Sadly, small fragments of habitat invariably
support fewer of their associated plants and animals than larger