Working hard to keep Lanlay special

Volunteers pulling Himalayan balsam at Lanlay in the Vale of Glamorgan

The meadows at Lanlay in the Vale of Glamorgan are a truly special place. But they only stay this way because our rangers and volunteers work hard to make sure Lanlay remains as it is for future generations.

Caring for Lanlay is a diverse and rewarding job. Litter picking, stock-proofing fences, clearing encroaching scrub to keep the meadows open, and removing alder and willow from the Rhos pasture so it stays wet are regular but important jobs.

Every 10 to 15 years we also undertake hedge laying. We started work on the last stretch of hedge laying in 2014 and completed it by the end of 2015.

Hedge laying is part of the traditional management of hay meadows like Lanlay, and allows hedge plants to regenerate. This means they can continue to provide a much-needed habitat for birds and other wildlife at a time when our traditional hedges are declining.

Surveying nature

Every summer, our rangers and volunteers get to go play in the sun, carrying out butterfly transects and vegetation monitoring. This is a really important part of our work, making sure Lanlay is staying healthy and continuing to provide a great habitat to a huge range of wildlife. These surveys also help us to build up wildlife records and show us how well we're doing at looking after this wonderful landscape.

Horsing around

Each autumn and winter, Lanlay gets some very special visitors. Bringing in traditional breeds of ponies, or sometimes cattle, to graze is a great way to maintain the special grass at Lanlay called Rhos pasture. The grazing opens the grassland up for new growth and removes ranker vegetation allowing a greater variety of wildflowers to emerge in spring and summer.

Battling the aliens

Controlling the invasive plant Himalayan balsam is a big part of our work at Lanlay. This fast-growing plant grows to well over head height and is a serious problem for our native plants. It also spreads quickly due to its exploding seed pods. Every year we spray it with herbicide and volunteer work parties spend hours pulling it. This stops it from taking over and out-competing our own wonderful wildflowers.

So next time you’re visiting Lanlay, take a moment to think of all the work that goes into keeping this place special, and if you’re interested in volunteering at Lanlay, please contact us.