Marloes' heathland habitat

Bell heather and western gorse

Coastal heathland is a real hotspot for nature and the National Trust cares for much of this habitat in Pembrokeshire, including the clifftops around the Marloes Peninsula.

Shaped by the sea salt spray and wind, heathland thrives when it is grazed and the vegetation is kept in good shape. That’s why you’ll see our cattle and Welsh mountain ponies grazing here.

Heathland restoration

Much of the land at Marloes has been returned to heathland, following a major restoration project with the Countryside Council for Wales (now Natural Resources Wales) and Trehill Farm in 2003.

The coastal fields had previously been used for agriculture, with many improvements made for farming including the addition of lime to the topsoil.

Heathland actually requires poor acidic soils to flourish, so to restore the habitat back to its natural beauty meant reversing this process.

The topsoil was stripped to reform the lost hedgebanks, and the soil was acidified with an application of waste sulphur from the Texaco Oil Refinery (now Valero) at Pembroke.

Seed-rich heather brash was spread here and there, and as the sulphur worked its way down through the soil profile in the following years, the heath was able to recover.

Now you’ll spot wildlife making the most of the vegetation… meadow pipits and stonechats dart from bush to bush and green tiger beetles scurry around on bare, warm ground. The habitat is also a particular favourite with choughs, which nest on the craggy cliffs.

Video

Heathland restoration

Discover more about the landscape and how it has been restored as Peter Smithies from Trehill Farm shares his story.