Fferm Ifan

Group of highland cattle grazing the Migneint common on a sunny day, Ysbyty Ifan Conwy

A group of tenant farmers are exploring new ways of farming a unique common for the benefit for nature and people.

Fferm Ifan is a group of 11 tenant farmers based on the Ysbyty Ifan estate. The farmers have grazing rights to the Migneint, one of the largest areas of blanket bog in Wales, which is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, Special Area of Conservation and Special Protection Area.

The group are working on a landscape scale scheme to manage natural resources more sustainably and effectively, funded by the Welsh Government’s Sustainable Management Scheme (SMS).

How is Fferm Ifan restoring a healthy, more natural environment?

As part of the work the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) are providing guidance on catchment sensitive planting. They will be planting more farmland trees and hedgerows along streams to help protect riverside habitats, reduce soil erosion and alleviate flood risk downstream.

Ditch blocking on the Migneint will continue and help raise the water table, store carbon and will also reduce flood risk in the Conwy Valley.

In order to improve water quality and reduce soil erosion on agricultural land, the group will create a number feeding pads for the livestock and crossing points along streams. Soil analysis will be carried out to monitor the quality of the soil.

The farmers are also taking part in grazing trials to encourage more biodiversity and wildlife in the peatland. As part of the grazing trials, cattle have been introduced to the Migneint for the first time in living memory.

Cattle at Ysbyty Ifan
Welsh Black cattle and Highland cattle at Ysbyty Ifan, Conwy
Cattle at Ysbyty Ifan

And there are plans to try and encourage more lapwings and curlews to breed successfully in the area.

What support was required to achieve this?

Securing the Welsh Government’s Sustainable Management Scheme has been crucial to carrying out the works to improve the ecosystems on a landscape scale, which was funded by the  'European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe Investing in Rural Areas'. The group is also working closely with a number of partners including the National Trust, Snowdonia National Park Authority, RSPB, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Bangor University and Natural Resources Wales in order to share ideas and learn from the expertise and experience of the partners.

What next?

As part of the scheme, Fferm Ifan will be looking into developing new markets for the non-food products of sustainable land management – clean, slow water, carbon storage and thriving biodiversity. The main aim of the group is to work together to ensure that the future generations of these traditional farming families can continue to thrive within this Welsh-speaking upland community.