Delivering for nature at Treseisyllt
Nestled on the coast between St David’s Head and Strumble Head you’ll find Treseisyllt, a pretty patchwork of coastal grassland, heathland and arable fields. Stretching across 57 hectares, this landscape is nationally important, designated as both a Site of Special Scientific Interest and Special Area of Conservation.
It’s here that we’re working in partnership with Ian Gray and Nia Stephens, our licensees for the area, to sensitively manage the land through conservation grazing with cattle and sheep.
Area ranger James Roden explains: “Treseisyllt is a very special place, with a range of important farmed habitats, particularly the flower-rich coastal grassland and heathland.
“Ian and Nia were selected to be our licensees here because of their farming experience as well as their clear passion to farm in a way that works with nature.”
Meet the nature-friendly farmers
For St David’s locals Ian and Nia, who took on the opportunity in April 2018, it’s a great fit with their nature-friendly farming approach.
“We were keen to work in partnership with the National Trust because we felt that our combined backgrounds in agriculture and conservation would fit well with the organisation's ethos,” they add.
“We have always said that to have a farm on the coast between St David’s and Fishguard would be a dream come true and the coastal grasslands at Treseisyllt fitted this perfectly!”
A typical working day
With livestock and 57 hectares of land to care for, there’s certainly plenty to keep the pair, together with their sheepdogs Siani and Betsi, busy here.
“A typical working day at Treseisyllt involves going around and checking our two flocks of Welsh mountain and Icelandic ewes and moving them to their next field. The flocks are rounded up and moved using our two working sheepdogs.
“Our cattle are grazing 45 acres along the coastal belt and need to be found and checked. This is all done on foot and can involve a lot of walking!”
An office with a view
The office comes with quite a view, they explain: “While we are walking the coast, we also check on our seal pups in the autumn time that are born on a few of the little coves along the coast.
“We often see kestrel hunting and chough feeding on the coastal grassland and Nia especially enjoys the wildflowers that grow here.”
One year on…
A year into our long-term partnership at Treseisyllt and the landscape’s already showing its appreciation.
New fencing infrastructure, thanks to the support of the People’s Postcode Lottery, has enabled more sensitive conservation grazing and management of where livestock can and can’t go, ensuring the different habitats are grazed in the most appropriate way.
Over the last 12 months, we've surveyed the species diversity of the grasslands, arable flora, winter farmland birds and chough populations.
We’ve identified a range of different flora and fauna enjoying Treseisyllt including:
- Flowers in grasslands - eyebright, common spotted orchid, devil's-bit scabious and bird's-foot trefoil
- Rare arable flora - corn marigold, weasel’s snout, field woundwort and corn spurrey
- Breeding birds - skylarks breed here and Dartford warbler, chough, peregrines and ravens all breed in the area and forage for food at Treseisyllt
- Winter farmland birds - large flocks of skylarks, linnets, starlings and goldfinches feed on the arable stubbles in winter which provide an important food source for these bird species
- Seabirds - fulmar, razorbill and guillemot are among the seabird species that breed on the cliffs here