Ynysdawela Nature Park is a great wood and grassland Council-owned site near Brynamman. The marshy grassland has not been able to be cut for a few years and bramble is encroaching into the fields. The grassland is still quite diverse but will become more rank and less flower rich if it is not managed. It is a good example of a diverse Molinia grassland and has had marsh fritillary butterflies in the past – there is still plenty of its foodplant, the Devil’s bit scabious. The site forms a ‘stepping stone’ habitat between known marsh fritillary populations in Cross Hands and Cwmgors and the Tawe valley.
However it is not as simple as going in and getting the grass cut and raking up the cuttings! Last year evidence of dormice was found in the woodland adjacent to the meadows and also probable dormouse nests in the base of the Molinia grass tussocks within the meadows themselves. The dormice would use these to hibernate in. In addition the dormice will be using the bramble that is needed to be managed.
In order that the grassland be cut and bramble managed and to ensure that dormice have enough habitat to be able to use the site a plan has been drawn up to ensure that no more than 30% of the grassland, scrub and bramble be removed. To be able to do this a licence has been applied for from Natural Resources Wales to allow us to remove habitat that may be used by dormice. The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales, volunteers and Council staff will undertake the work with a licenced conservation officer from the Wildlife Trust checking the habitat for dormice before any management takes place. The work should be underway in December after the licence is (hopefully) obtained!