INCC has been working with partners in the Amman Valley to begin restoring habitats, including marshy grassland and meadows.

A habitat survey of a large part of the Amman Valley was undertaken by Carmarthenshire County Council (CCC) in 2020. The survey mapped the habitats in the landscape that are of particular importance for biodiversity. In total, 324 individual habitat compartments of semi-natural habitat types were recorded, covering over 950ha of habitat.

Habitat map of part of the Amman Valley

The largest combined habitat in terms of area was woodland, including hedgerows. Woodland habitat of different ages and ecological quality can be found throughout the landscape. Larger woodland blocks associated with the Afon Amman and its tributaries.

One of the valley’s most important wildlife habitats is marshy grassland, which is widely distributed throughout the landscape. The marshy grassland habitat in several areas supports the rare Marsh Fritillary (Euphydryas aurinia) butterfly. The butterfly has undergone catastrophic declines throughout much of Europe and the UK in recent decades. Although Wales remains a relative stronghold, even here many localised extinctions have taken place.

Marsh fritillary basking in the Amman Valley

The decline of the species is associated with the loss of its marshy grassland and rhôs pasture habitat. When managed appropriately, these habitats provide the ideal sward structure required by the caterpillars and their foodplant (Devil’s-bit Scabious (Succisa pratensis)). The loss of species-rich grassland habitats, predominantly through agricultural intensification, has resulted in fragmented landscapes which support fewer and fewer areas suitable for the species.

INCC have been working with local landowners and partner organisations to help restore fragments of marshy grassland habitat in the landscape.

To help with the habitat restoration, INCC have installed a polytunnel in a new community wildlife garden. The polytunnel is dedicated to growing a range of native wildflowers and promoting wildlife gardening.

Community volunteers have grown thousands of Scabious plants, and hundreds more Ragged-robin (Lychnis flos-cuculi), Marsh Ragwort (Jacobaea aquatica) and many others.

Community polytunnel full of Devil’s-bit Scabious plants

Our first habitat restoration project in the Amman Valley was the restoration of a beautiful damp meadow at Parc Golwg yr Aman in the heart of the community. For many years the meadow was cut at regular intervals throughout the year as an amenity grassland. Working closely with Cwmaman Town Council who manage the park, we were able to convince them to stop mowing during the growing season. Today, the damp meadow is one of the most floristically diverse grasslands in the Valley.

In spring 2021, INCC alongside local volunteers, Cwmaman Town Council and the National Botanic Garden of Wales planted out many of these plug plants. The plants are helping to restore the floristic diversity of the marshy grassland at Parc Golwg yr Aman in the Amman Valley, as well as in INCC’s wildlife garden.

Parc Golwg yr Aman in 2023

Thanks to support from Bannau Brycheiniog National Park, other habitat restoration work in the Valley has included getting cattle grazing on to overgrown marshy grassland sites. Native breed cattle are one of the best ways of managing habitats for wildlife. This work has involved local contractors improving fencing and installing holding pens and water troughs.

Cattle grazing marshy grassland in the Amman Valley

Restoration of wildflower meadows has also begun, with seed collected locally and sourced from the Botanic Garden being spread on more agriculturally improved meadows.

Harvesting wildflower seeds in the Amman Valley

In addition to grassland habitats, INCC has also planted an orchard of local fruit tree varieties and we have created hundreds of metres of hedgerow.