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Sustainable farming at Fferm Ifan

Cloudy view of a blanket bog with scrubby vegetation around it and mountains in the distance
View across the blanket bog on the Migneint at Ysbyty Ifan, Snowdonia | © National Trust Images/John Miller

Fferm Ifan is led by a group of 11 tenant farmers based on the Ysbyty Ifan estate, working together to explore new and sustainable ways of farming that will both benefit people living in the surrounding landscape as well as improve wildlife habitats and increase overall biodiversity.

Grazing on the Migneint blanket bog

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 (SSSI), Special Area of Conservation and a Special Protection Area.

Reducing soil erosion and increasing water quality

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 which will help raise the water table, store carbon and reduce flood risk in the Conwy Valley.

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.

Welsh Black cattle in Snowdonia, Wales
Welsh Black Cattle in Snowdonia | © National Trust Images/Paul Harris

Biodiversity increase

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. There are also plans to try and encourage more lapwings and curlews to breed successfully in the area.


The project is funded by the Welsh Government’s Sustainable Management Scheme (SMS) along with the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe Investing in Rural Areas. Securing this money has been crucial to carrying out the works to improve the ecosystems on a landscape scale. 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.

Plans for the future

As part of the scheme, Fferm Ifan will be looking into developing new markets for the non-food by-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.

A view from the side of a mountain of a tumbling stream running into the valley at Cwm Penmachno, with a view of a road down in the valley


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