September 2018 - managing habitats

Brecon Beacons and Monmouthshire area ranger taking a break to admire the view near Cwm Gwdi in the central Brecon Beacons, one of the many sites cared for by the National Trust

A day in the life of a ranger is never the same, whether battling the elements to get the work done or visiting different sites to carry out necessary conservation and maintenance tasks, there is always something new to focus on. Area ranger Simon gives us an update of what's been happening since his last blog...

Caring for the environment

Managing habitats can happen in a variety of different ways. Around this time of year, as the days get cooler and we move into the autumn months, we spend time cutting and raking hay meadows. Once cut we remove the cuttings with the assistance of our volunteers to help encourage species diversity and regrowth. At some of our more established meadows we collected seed before cutting so we could spread it over areas with less variety of flora and fauna, all of which contributes to maintaining a healthy environment.

A working holiday busy raking grass at The Kymin
Volunteers on a working holiday with the Brecon Beacons and Monmouthshire National Trust helping to rake cut grass at The Kymin in Monmouth
A working holiday busy raking grass at The Kymin
An inquisitive grasshopper found when clearing grass cuttings at The Kymin
National Trust rangers often come across grasshoppers like this one when clearing grass cuttings at sites across the Brecon Beacons and Monmouthshire, Wales
An inquisitive grasshopper found when clearing grass cuttings at The Kymin

A balancing act

It can be a delicate balancing act between keeping an area open and accessible so the public can continue to enjoy the surroundings but at the same time creating the best conditions for flora and fauna to thrive. I spoke in a previous blog about controlling invasive species and recently I tried a slightly different approach along the banks of the River Usk at Clytha in Monmouthshire. We allowed cattle owned by our tenant at Ffynonnau Farm graze the area and hopefully control the spread of Himalayan balsam. With the help and understanding of the public I closed the footpath for a few days and it proved very successful. The cattle seemed to like it and the farmer was pleased to get some extra grazing for his herd.

Cattle helping to control the spread of invasive species at Clytha
Using cattle as a new method of invasive species control along the banks of the River Usk at Clytha, Monmouthshire, National Trust Wales
Cattle helping to control the spread of invasive species at Clytha

It's a bat's life

This balancing act also applies to the buildings I look after such as tenanted farms and cottages. We often find wildlife share the space where people live and work and bats are a common example of this. I maintain a summer roost in one of our tenanted cottages where the occupants are happy to share their home and get hours of enjoyment from watching them going back and forth on a summer's evening.

There are many aspects to the Brecon Beacons and Monmouthshire team which are not always highlighted within these blogs. Next month woodland ranger Tim looks at plans for a trial cattle grazing within the Tarrell Valley in the central Brecon Beacons.