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 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 many areas supports the rare marsh fritillary (Euphydryas aurinia) butterfly. The butterfly has undergone catastrophic declines throughout much 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 summer sun

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 food plant. The loss of 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 created a community Polytunnel. The polytunnel is dedicated to growing wildflowers and promoting sustainable horticulture and wildlife gardening.

Community volunteers have already grown over 500 devil’s-bit scabious (Succisa pratensis) plants and hundreds more ragged robin (Lychnis flos-cuculi), tufted vetch (Vicia cracca) and marsh ragwort (Jacobaea aquatica).

Community polytunnel full of devil’s-bit scabious plants

In spring 2021, INCC alongside local volunteers, Cwmaman Town Council and the National Botanic Garden of Wales will be planting out the plug plants. The plants will help restore the floristic diversity of the marshy grassland at Parc Golwg yr Aman in the Amman Valley.