St. Madoc’s Youth Centre is ARUK’s Partner in Action on the Gower Peninsula in South Wales. Following the end of a long-term tenancy agreement with a local farmer, they are keen to explore ways to manage the land to benefit habitats, wildlife, and plant diversity on the Gower, part of which will include conservation grazing. Hilfield Friary, ARUK’s Partner in Action in North Dorset, has had conservation grazing on their land since the early 2000’s, and it’s now a key part of their management for biodiversity in chalk downland wildflower meadows. Lydia Reese, our Partner in Action Manager and Richard Thornbury, who started the conservation grazing programme at the Friary, arranged a training for St. Madoc’s staff to share what they have learned.
After an overview of the basic principles of conservation grazing using both sheep and cattle in open pasture, the staff of St. Madoc’s Centre had a tour of the Friary land and learned about some of the past challenges that the Friary has encountered as well as current obstacles and successes. They observed the differences in pastures with varying management plans and examined the animals in winter condition, observing their health and wellbeing.
The other practical piece of training was hedge laying. This benefits stock and improves the ‘edge’ habitat in open pasture. St. Madoc’s staff are exploring the possibility of planting some hedges on their land to provide shade and shelter for stock, as well as to benefit wildlife on site.
Following in-depth discussions of conservation grazing and best practice, the group then drafted an initial site plan for St. Madoc’s Centre. They left with plenty of ideas and look forward to continuing work on their evolving management plan. A perfect example of how our Partners in Action can support and help each other to benefit wildlife and care for God’s earth.