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Habitat restoration at St David’s airfield

Sprigs of pale purple Ling heather on Lundy Island
Ling heather on Lundy Island | © National Trust Images/Nick Upton

Just a mile away from the Solva Coast, you’ll find St David’s airfield, a former military base flanked by National Trust owned common land that is now a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

What is the airfield?

The airfield was active from 1943 to 1960 and comprised three runways, a control tower and three corrugated iron hangars. Its days of flying high are long gone, but when the land came out of military ownership there was an opportunity to restore some of it back to its native heathland habitat.

Working in partnership

In order to do this, the National Trust worked closely with Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority and the Countryside Council for Wales to undertake a major landscaping project.

What did the restoration involve?

Using large turf cuttings that we supplied from the airfield’s commons, the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority recreated an area of wet heathland that had been destroyed when the airfield was established in the Second World War.

It’s now recognised as a SSSI, with the heath and wetland of national importance. The area also plays an active part in our Pembrokeshire Heathland Beef scheme.

5 things you might not know about St David’s Airfield

  • St David’s was one of eight airfields built in Pembrokeshire between 1939 and 1945

  • You can still see foundations of the former military airbase at Waun Fachelich common

  • Most of the airfield was disused by the 1990s before being returned to farming and partly restored to heathland

  • The site hosted the National Eisteddfod of Wales in 2002, a major cultural event for the area

  • Footpaths and cycle trails now cross the old airfield, which you’re free to enjoy
A coastal view looking south-west towards St Bride's Bay over the ridge-backed peninsula of Dinas Fawr. Skomer Island is visible in the sea in the distance.


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