Held at:

Private collection

Reference:

RS/ODP

Source:

Guest contribution

Title:

Olchon Development Project: Draft Environmental Audit report

Place name:

Longtown

Date:

1999

Description:

 

Introductory Note:

 

The bulk of the paper below is anunpublished Draft report prepared as part of a comprehensive EnvironmentalAudit of the Longtown area conducted under the auspices of the OlchonDevelopment Project in 1998/99. In the event ELSG understands that a summaryreport was submitted and the full Environmental Audit report was neverfinalised. Part 1 of the full report draft below appears close to a final form,although some of the figures and appendices are missing. We have also assembledat the end ‘Supplementary Material’ from individual figures and subsectionsfound in files relating to the wider studies carried out at the time. We haveincluded this without attempting any of the interpretation or elaboration thatno doubt would have been the original intention of the author; some of it maybelong in Part 1 of the report, while other elements may have been prepared forinclusion in the intended Part 2. Readers should bear in mind the draft statusof this paper and exercise appropriate caution in its use. We are indebted toDavid Lovelace for making this important material available for our website.

Ewyas Lacy Study Group

 

The Olchon Development Project

Environmental Audit

Part 1 [Draft]: Landscape History, Grassland andFarming

 

 

Introduction

Theenvironmental qualities of the countryside of Longtown Group Parish areconsiderable and many layered, reflecting the toil of generations of livestockfarmers, the deep history of this border area and its place as a transitionzone between different geographies and traditions. With major changes in theeconomy of rural areas on their way, the Parish’s countryside could become itskey capital asset. Managing a complex landscape to fulfil different andsometimes opposing objectives on an annual basis depends entirely upon thosewho live and work there and have the accumulated skill and knowledge. Thisreview of those assets and the farming upon which they are based is primarilyto be used by the community for the benefit of everyone in the area as well asthose from outside. Conserving and enhancing one of England’s finest jewels ofthe countryside is a job for its farmers and land owners. With the right ruraldevelopment tools and the technical information at their disposal they can geton with the job. Without them, countryside 5000 years in the making is at risk.

Meeting the Olchon Development Project targets


1. To review the agricultural and land use data for the area.

Theproject has obtained the data from the June Census agricultural returns for thefour parishes for the years 1968, 1968, 1974, 1980, 1986. Parish level databecame unavailable after 1988 but the Farming and Rural Conservation Agency(FRCA) at Crewe were kindly able to provide the census data for the fourparishes combined for years 1995, 1996 and 1997.  They also provided us withthe amounts of subsidy received in each parish from each of the CommonAgricultural Policy (CAP) schemes for the years 1992 – 1998. FRCA Worcesterprovided us with data on the Countryside Stewardship scheme expenditure.

2. Acquire appropriate IT and GIS functionality.

Althoughthis technology is the best way to deal with land use and environmental data,the time, resources and the steep learning curve required to use it would havetaken up too much of the project. However valuable experience has been gainedusing manual mapping, and the database used for the environmental survey dataputs us in a good position to make best use of this technology in the future.

3. Acquire sets of aerial photographs of the area.

Theproject has obtained copies of 1985 and 1995 colour air photographs of the areaas well as some black and white larger scale air photos. These have been mostuseful for survey and display purposes as well as for agri-environment andwoodland scheme applications.

4. Conduct landscape and habitat surveys.

Detailedsurveys of grasslands, woodlands, hedgerows and ponds have been carried out.The historical underpinning of the landscape has been reviewed in co-operationwith the local history group.

5. Hold 5 demonstration days on survey, environmental appraisal andgrant schemes.

Threeevening and two day events were held for the group parish with officers fromthe county FWAG, the Forestry Authority private woodlands officer and therepresentatives of the Marches Woodland Initiative. County experts on botanyand entomology have conducted a series of 8 field days through May and Junetraining local people in survey and identification skills.

6. Generate 5 Countryside Stewardship Scheme and 3 Woodland Grantsschemes.

FiveCountryside Stewardship schemes have been applied for this year as a result ofthe project. Two woodland schemes applications have also been submitted. Both thelatter schemes involved the conversion of some forage area to woodlandmanagement, which results in loss of income even with Livestock Exclusion AnnualPremium (LEAP). As most woodland in the area is used as forage, there is littleincentive to convert to woodland management.

7. Produce an illustrated report on audit findings and include a localBiodiversity Action Plan.

Turning the enormous amountof data collected from the field into a user friendly and meaningful form hasproved a very time consuming exercise. This report is thus part I –concentrating on grassland, farming, the history of the landscape, and datasources. Part II will feature Woodlands, hedgerows, butterflies and moths,birds and water features. When complete, the audits will allow a full review ofthe species and habitats of the area, which when combined with other groups andagencies working at the county level, will enable a Biodiversity Action Planfor the area to be produced.

 

Acknowledgements

Theenvironment section is most grateful to all the farmers and landowners whoallowed their land to be studied, given their time to help and discuss farmingand conservation issues and without whom any environmental assessment of thearea would be impossible. Thanks also to all those who came to the eveningmeetings and field outings and especially to the volunteers who gave their timeto survey and record the variety of habitats in the parishes. The MAFF officesat Crewe and Worcester as well as the officers of the Farming and RuralConservation Agency have been most helpful in supplying awkward subsets ofagricultural and agri-environment data. The Herefordshire Nature Trust andEnglish Nature have given valuable advice and allowed us access to theirrecords for the area.

Finallythanks to the Herefordshire Hills LEADER team who encouraged the OlchonDevelopment Group while project developed.


From Ice Age to Agenda 2000 - a brief land use history.

Knowledgeof the development of human settlement and farming is essential to theunderstanding and appreciation of the deeply historical landscape and variedecology of Longtown Group Parish.

Woodlandwhich colonised and grew to dominate Britain after the last ice-age wasgenerally of similar tree species to that in remaining ancient woodlands todayexcept that the warmer climate of the Atlantic period (5000 – 3000BC) favouredsome now rare tree species such as Lime. The living descendants of the local‘wildwood’ Lime populations can still to be found amongst the dingles andancient hedgerows throughout the parish (see Figure 2).

Figure 2: Tree and shrub species composition of woods (sample of 41) and hedgerows (sample of 121) in Longtown Group Parish.

Note the similarity; many hedges may be derived from former woodland

 

Humansettlement and husbandry was having a marked impact on woodland by theNeolithic period. Analysis and dating of pollen in flood plain sediments of theSevern valley shows the balance of woodland to open country in the catchmenthad tipped significantly towards clearance by the early Bronze Age and by themid Iron Age (1000BC) the pollen of trees and shrubs made up only 10% of thetotal, the remainder being herbage of open ground along with agricultural weedsand crops (Figure 1). [Fig.1 not available] It is likely that the Wyeand Monnow valleys had a similar clearance history.

Thefew archaeological sites from Black Mountains (Craswall, Upper Olchon valley)and surrounding areas (Gannols marsh, Clifford) that have been analysed forpollen and charcoal deposits show evidence of woodland clearance andcultivation in the pre-historic period. Although the resources have not beenavailable for Carbon dating this West Herefordshire work, comparison with the Severn sites above implies that extensive woodland clearance was occurring around the earlyBronze Age. Conformation of early human settlement and activity in the areacomes from recent finds from the Mesolithic area (pre Neolithic, before 3000BC)at Lower Maescoed (coed=wood), eastern Longtown, of a flint thumb scraper and a‘microlith’ (a small shaped flint blade). Such artefacts turn up when land iscultivated and are likely to be generally distributed but difficult to find inthe predominantly grassland landscape[1] of thegroup parish.

Areview of the environmental evidence for the vegetation and human activity inthe upland areas of Herefordshire and Shropshire was published in 1992[2]and some of the background data to that report remains valuable althoughincomplete.

Thefour parishes have been part the shifting fortunes of Welsh society in theborder regions as the farm, woodland and place names testify. Studies of theearly manuscript history of woodlands in Wales[3] pointto their importance for a variety of purposes other than just timber or wood.These included the fattening of livestock especially pigs on acorns and nuts,pasture within the wood and tree foliage, berries and nuts (for both livestockand humans) and as a source of honey.

Atthe time of Domesday, overall woodland cover for England has been estimated atabout 15% but for Herefordshire, especially West of the county, the Domesdayevidence is oblique. What there is points more to wood pasture than extensivewoods with references to the feeding of pigs in woodlands (pannage). Llanveynoeand Craswall are not included in the Herefordshire Domesday but the entry forLongtown reads: “Roger [de Lacy] has an estate called Longtown…From this landRoger has 15 sesters of honey and 15 pigs..” The Crown at the time was probablymore concerned with securing the new borders with the Welsh than with raisingrevenue, but this brief entry is consistent with a wood pasture economy.  

Aglimpse of the Wales and border landscape comes from Giraldus’s account of hisjourney through Wales in 1189 which started from Herefordshire. Discussing theearly years of Llanthony Abbey and the idealistic aspiration of its monks, hemakes reference to the neighbouring valley of “Ewias” [Ewyas] as “situated asthey were in the wilderness, they refused to permit the overgrown recesses ofthe valley, where it widened out into an impenetrable wood, ever to be clearedor levelled off to make an open meadow, for they had no wish to abandon their eremitical[sic] way of life.”

Hethen paints a lyrical description of an ideal and productive countryside withwood pasture playing a central role:

“Thosemountain heights abound in horses and wild game, those woods are richly stockedwith pigs, the shady groves with goats, the pasture lands with sheep, themeadows with cattle, farms with ploughs”. 

Thehills around Llanthony Abbey, just the other side of the Offa’s Dyke ridge fromLongtown are clearly not wooded as they are “not of stones and rocks, but ratherof soft earth covered with grass”[4]

Theupland pastures and farmland of the Ewyas and Olchon valleys as well as landsat Longtown and Walterstone were granted to the monastic houses of Craswall andLlanthony Abbeys throughout the 13th and 14th centuries.If the revenues from the neighbouring Dore Abbey[5] landsare anything to go by then the principal wealth from these lands was derivedfrom wool whose quality from the Golden Valley area was renowned. Florentinemerchants were the main buyers of border-produced wool from the early 14thcentury and in 1303 Dore Abbey was paid £266 8s for their wool. A golden tradeindeed.

Howmuch the smaller abbeys of Llanthony and Craswall shared this wealth isuncertain since Dore had its own fulling mills and tanneries and seems to havecontrolled much of the local trade. Documentation for these abbeys may not havesurvived or perhaps awaits discovery but it seems likely that Dore’s landmanagement was typical or at least influential. The economic importance of pasturein the area at this time is obvious with Dore Abbey having extensive grants of“pasture in forest and field” and recorded 3,000 sheep in 1291. There were alsorights to pasture for “oxen, cows, sheep, pigs, enough to sustain their grange”and also pannage for pigs at Maescoed.

DoreAbbey profited from their timber and wood resources, to such an extent thatGiraldus complains that the Dore monks changed “an oak wood into a wheatfield”. It is likely that the lands of Craswall and Llanthony also had valuabletimber, bark for tanning and wood-pasture. Honey and wax appear in the accountsof a number of Welsh and border monastic houses implying plentiful wild nectarsources in the local wood pasture countryside. In June 1265 Henry III, whilestaying in Hereford, bought 100lb of wax from the Hereford treasurer, much ofwhich may well have come from the Black Mountains and Golden Valley area.

Theproductivity of the neighbouring Manor of Brecon which included large areas ofupland, including the Black Mountains, is evident even after the ravages of theBlack Death since its Welsh tenants provided £1,500 per year revenue for itsMarcher Lord, John of Gaunt, in the 1380’s[6]. OwainGlyn Dwr’s revolt 20 years later must have affected the area and there is Welshevidence of farmland reverting to woodland at this time.

Detailedsurveys of land earlier than the 17th century are uncommon but roughestimates were recorded by the King’s officials when land came into thetemporary possession of the crown following a dispute or death without clearheirs. An ‘inquisition post mortem’ into lands in Walterstone in 1508 [7]recorded:

“Amessuage, 3 carucates[8] ofland, 40 acres meadow, 20 acres pasture and 60 acres of wood in Walterstonworth 10 marks, held of George Nevyle of Bergevenny, Knight, in socage, as ofthe honor of Ewyas, to wit, by service of rent of 2s yearly.”

Takenat face value this is approximately equivalent to 170 hectares of which 70% wasarable or ley, 15% permanent grassland and 15% woodland.

Theperiod following the dissolution of the monasteries, together with the rise ofthe main estates - especially that of the Marquis of Abergavenny - and thesubsequent development of yeoman farming is now being pieced together by thelocal history team.

Not until the Tithe surveys of the 1840’s docomprehensive records of land use become available. The history section hasextracted this data which is compared with 1997 census returns:

Land use in Longtown Group Parish

1840 Tithe survey

1997 June returns

Hectares

%

Hectares

%

Arable

1,607

30.2

81

1.5

Meadow or pasture

3,561

67.0

5,164

96.8

Woodland

149

2.8

88

1.7

Total (ex common land and homestead)

5,317

100

5,333

100

 

Theproportion of arable was considerably and surprisingly greater than now, 30%compared with under 2% in 1997. This partly reflected the market upheavalsfollowing the Napoleonic wars and tariffs against foreign corn. The woodlandand timber resources were under recorded since wood pasture and pasture werenot distinguished. Comparison with the 1887 6” OS maps which showed field and hedgerowtrees reveals the extent of tree cover and wood pasture. Figure 3 shows apartof Llanveynoe as it appears on the Tithe map, the 1887 OS 6” and a modern airphoto. [Fig 3 not available]

Followingthe trade liberalisation in the mid Victorian period, English agricultureentered a period of depression from the 1870’s, starting with the arable sector,which resulted in many thousands of acres being put down to grass. Thelivestock sector also suffered including the lowland livestock fattening areasof central Herefordshire. Whereas they could diversify into crops like hops,those in the Longtown area and up the hill would have had to weather thedepression as best they could.

The1890’s depression has strong resonances with the situation facing livestockproducers today, so it is worth quoting the agricultural historian P.J. Perrywho put the situation of the late Victorian livestock farmer in the depressionas follows: 

“…capitalinvestment was relatively small; he needed to make relatively few cashpayments, his stocks, his feeding stuffs, and even his labour force beingprimarily home bred. He had few illusions as to his position. In hard times thebreeder’s characteristic response was to increase stock if possible, and toaccept a lower, sometimes appallingly low, standard of living.”[9]

Thiswas the time when the first detailed account of the botany of the county wasbeing written. Some idea of what upland meadows in Herefordshire were like canbe obtained from the “A Flora of Herefordshire” published in 1889 by theReverends Purchas and Ley who described the Green Winged Orchid Orchis morio,a now rare and declining meadow flower of old hay meadows, as ‘common’ and “Inhilly pastures it is particularly abundant; and, with the numerous shades ofcolour which its blossoms present, adds greatly to their ornament”. Themagnificent Globe Flower Trollius europaeus only to be found in a veryfew old un-drained, unimproved grasslands and marshes was evidently not commoneven then as it was found “Chiefly in the hill districts; rare” but it occurredin the “Craswal valley”, although the Victoria County History of Herefordshirepublished in 1908 states that “the heads of the Monnow and its tributary brookssupport a great abundance of the globe flower”.  (Our survey failed to find it,although it is recorded in Craswall fairly recently).

Whateverthe effects of the first world war on agriculture in the area, the 1937 LandUtilisation Survey[10], thenext major land use survey after that of the Tithe Acts, showed that for thearea of Black Mountains and Golden Valley the land area comprised 75% permanentgrassland, 17 % rough grazing, 4% rotational leys and only 4% arable rotationalgrass and just 4% arable.

Bythe Second World War the policy of national self-sufficiency and production hadbecome paramount. A grassland survey by the Ministry of Agriculture carried atthe start of the war 1939-40 remarked of the “more elevated regions” ofHerefordshire that “Much of this land is at present badly infested withrabbits, while ant-hills are a common feature of old pastures. To a largeextent the group covers country which, by and large, must be regarded as beingin an utterly derelict condition.” Capital was available for war time ‘dig forvictory’ campaign and the County War Agricultural Executive Committees (the“war ags”) encouraged compliance with production demands.

TheHerefordshire Planning Survey of 1946 remarked of upland grazings inHerefordshire that “They vary in character from heather moorland to Fescue orAgrostis pastures invaded by gorse and bracken, and much of this land wascompletely derelict in pre-war years”. The survey reflected the idea thatgrassland improvement was to be an essential component of the rural post-war re-constructionpolicy “Modern machinery and our present greater knowledge of grassland strainsmakes it feasible to convert much of this land into useful store-raisingpastures. It is upon such policy of grassland improvement that the future ofwestern Herefordshire chiefly depends.” [11] 

The1947 Agriculture Act was designed to ensure that farming in post-war Britain received adequate income independent of market conditions while capital grants wereavailable to improve grassland under the 1952 Agricultural Ploughing GrantsAct. In essence, ‘dig for victory’ continued to drive agricultural policy andone of its principal targets was the remaining areas of permanent ‘unimproved’grassland, such that by the 1980’s only 3% of the 1930’s area remained in England[12].

Hillareas like much of the Longtown group parish received special consideration inview of their limited options. Just after the UK’s admission to the EuropeanUnion, the Less Favoured Area directive increased funds to hill and uplandzones in the form of extra headage payments and capital grant aid. All the landabove 200m was designated LFA which was all of Craswall, most of Llanveynoe,western edge of Longtown and Mynydd Merddin. In 1984, the FLAs were extended(with lower rates of grant) to included the lower valleys so that now onlyWalterstone is excluded from the LFA. A map showing the LFA boundaries of thegroup parish is reproduced in Figure 4.

Figure 4: Less Favoured Area boundaries covering Longtown group parish

The Red boundary encloses land designated under the original 1975 LFA designation, now known as Severely Disadvantaged Area (SDA). The blue boundary encloses land brought into the LFA in 1984 ‘extended LFA’ now called Disadvantaged Area (DA). Headage rates are less for DA but higher stocking levels are eligible.     1 km x 1 km squares, arbitrary scale

 

Akey objective of the EU-wide LFA directive was to stem population decline,conserve the countryside and way of life in mountain areas.  In the UK, the resources were used mainly to increase the productivity of livestock farming inupland areas, which involved further pasture improvement, drainage and thereclamation of semi-natural areas. While the directive channelled funds to farmbusinesses in hill areas, the potential environmental benefits of livestockfarming could not be realised economically. The policy tended to favour largerlivestock enterprises lower down to hill who could increase production fromcapital improvement.

TheJune Returns show the numbers of registered farm holdings declining onlyslightly compared with the country as a whole. This is due to the increase inregistered small holdings reflecting the increasing interest in dwellings withsmall parcels of land. Farms over 20 Hectares show a sharper decline. Unfortunately,the size breakdown units in the statistics change over the years so thatfigures for the larger size categories in different years are incompatible.

Farming Trends in Longtown Group Parish (June Returns)

Number of farms in group parish

1968

1974

1980

1986

1992

1997

Under 20 ha

50

42

39

46

57

63

Over 20 ha

97

96

93

88

84

81

Total recorded holdings

147

138

132

134

141

144

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All Cattle

5,058

5,872

4,631

5,156

3,917

3,815

Sheep

44,405

49,990

55,842

67,802

63,418

64,915

 

Sheep numbers have increased by about 20,000 overthirty years a rate equivalent to an annual increase of 700 per year. Overallcattle have declined by a similar proportion.

Technicaldevelopments in livestock farming over the decades have brought efficiencybenefits and labour saving but have had knock on effects on wildlife. Thechange from hay to silage as the principle means of conserving forage and theuse of artificial fertilisers have both had the effect of reducing biodiversityin grassland for plants, insects and birds. 

Inthe early 1980’s the first ‘agri-environment’ schemes were on offer to helpfarmers integrate environmental objectives into their land management. In the UK, Countryside Stewardship is the only such scheme available to farmers outsideEnvironmentally Sensitive Areas and although CS has expanded over the years thegrant rates offered remain too low to compete with the headage paymentsobtained from conventional stocking systems.

Anattempt was made in 1990/91 to put the Black Mountains and Golden Valleyforward as candidate Environmentally Sensitive Area in the run up to the lastround of such designations. Shropshire already had the Clun Upland andShropshire Hills which between them earns that county about £1.5m a year inenvironmental management revenue. It was felt that the area had all theconditions for Environmentally Sensitive Area status: high quality landscape,varieties of quality habitats, dependence on farming pattern undergoing changesand it formed a compact geographical unit.

Themain impediment was the lack of environmental and farming data to make thecase. Although further Environmentally Sensitive Area designations are veryunlikely, there are some opportunities for funding environmentally beneficialfarming systems under the Agenda 2000 Rural Development Regulations, providedthere is the political will to co-fund them and if a case can be made by thepotential recipient area.

Asof 1998, the public subsidy for managing grassland in Longtown group parish forconservation objectives is about £12,000 a year (~140 hectares at the currentrates[13] of£85/hectare) which is just 1.3% of the total headage subsidy for the groupparish.

Thegrowing interest in conservation management on farms combined with the scopefor building on the considerable environmental assets of the area will be injeopardy if support is not forthcoming. The alternative of livestock farmersleaving the land would mean a much greater rate of decline of the environmentalattributes and an irreversible decline of a complex pastoral landscape.

Apartfrom the lack of resources there is an in-built conflict between productionsubsidies and environmental management payments as they are effectively incompetition with each other leading to an inefficient use of rural supportpayments. Currently, there are proposals under the current round of CommonAgricultural Policy reform, Agenda 2000, to switch LFA headage payments to areapayments. This policy proposal risks depriving small scale upland livestockbusinesses with enclosed grazing, such as typifies the farming of Longtowngroup parish, without delivering any environmental benefits. Lack of reform inother parts of the CAP coupled with the currently low allocation of RuralDevelopment and Agri-environment funding can only increase pressure on thelocal livestock farming.

Asthis survey shows the group parish retains a wealth of environmental resources,almost all of which require livestock farming in some form to maintain andenhance them. This also requires people with the skills, commitment and theincome to manage this unique environment which has been at least 5,000 years inthe making.

The Monnow valley, southern Longtown. Clodock Church top middle.  Mynydd Merddin to the right.            NRSC 1998


Grassland

Grazed land occupies 97% of the Group Parishaccording to the Agricultural Census June Returns so the management of grazedland and methods of conserving forage have a deep impact upon the ecology ofthe area. Since grassland underpins the farming and rural economy in thislivestock based countryside decisions about its management are of keyimportance to individual farmers both in terms of income and property rights.Any attempt to record, conserve or enhance the environmental aspects of grazedland must be with the consent of the local farming community who are theinheritors and successors to millennia of livestock farming.

Grassland management whether for biodiversity ormaximum production is a complex annual cycle with many variables but dependantupon the skill and viability of individual livestock farmers. The uniquepastoral landscapes of the Black Mountains area and its grasslands dependultimately upon the long term health of parish’s livestock farm businesses.

Inreviewing existing information about grasslands in the area it became clearthat the previous surveys had tended to look from outside at grassland sites aspotential nature reserves isolated from their farming, historical and landownership context. One of these surveys (in 1988) had as its objective to ‘cherrypick’ grassland sites of high conservation value in the county as candidatesfor statutory controls over their management. Unsurprisingly, that survey andfollow up meetings in the area by the statutory agency concerned had a negativeimpact upon way conservation, especially of biodiverse grassland, was perceivedand led to the further loss of some flower rich meadows by owners simply tryingto protect their interests.

Thisproject has attempted a different approach by seeking the consent of farmers individuallyand as a community in advance. The results of this survey are owned by thecommunity through the Olchon Development Project which is answerable to locals.Farm and site level information is held in confidence between the owner and thesurveyor and not released without permission. Aggregated data from the all thesurveyed sites, minus the site location and name, has been analysed to give anoverview of the grassland.

Permissionto survey was granted by over 50 farms but with some refusals which arerespected. In a few cases, land was entered inadvertently without permissiondue to misunderstanding or map reading error, mistakes which were acknowledgedat the time. Results of each survey have been sent each owner.

Whilethe project has attempted to survey a representative sample of the parishfields, there will be bias towards land of higher conservation value, since theobjective of the project required their inclusion and they needed moresurveying time. However, a fair number of species rich grassland sites were onfarms which were otherwise conventionally farmed so the bias is limited.

Standardpro-formas were created for the project which listed plant species as well ashabitat information such as wet areas, anthills etc. Examples of the forms areincluded at the end this report. Surveyors could record presence or absence orif more time were available abundances as well.

Theinformation, which includes 5360 individual plants records from the fieldsurveys, was entered onto a data base (Excel 97). Only the master data set hasinformation on site location and farm name and a single protected copy isretained by the grassland consultant. For the purposes of the analysis belowall locational and personal data were stripped out.

Fieldsvisited were graded 1, 2 or 3 according to their native species composition andoverall habitat value. While this is inevitably a subjective judgement, thedatabase of sites can be subsequently analysed so that different kinds ofclassification and sorting can be performed, including if required that of theNational Vegetation Classification (NVC). Grade three is recently improvedswards with predominantly Rye Grass and Clovers or occasionally arable and only20 were surveyed to make a representative sample, as well as additional siteswhere owners requested surveys. The top grade meadows are the most speciesrich, had the highest number of ‘key indicator species’ and/or includedfeatures such as ant hills or marshy areas. For these meadows management wassympathetic with low stocking rates by conventional standards and very littleif any artificial inputs. The middle grade 2 is somewhat arbitrary but includesmuch of the semi-improved, reverting or species-poor grassland but containinginteresting areas within the field boundary. It was quite common to find areasof grassland conservation value within an otherwise improved field, for examplein wet flushes, field edges, banks or old quarry workings. These areas weregenerally inconvenient or uneconomic to manage as intensively as the main partof the field.

Thetable below shows the amount of land covered by the survey, broken down intoits biodiversity grades. Some 398 fields were visited covering 828 hectares orone seventh, 14 %, of the group parish (excluding the mountain common grazing).254 grassland fields were surveyed in detail, but sometimes a number of fieldstogether were similar and recorded as one site, so the total number ofgrassland sites was 208. Some 234 species of native grass and herb were recordedincluding 90 plants which indicate conservation significance (see below).

 

Areas in hectares

Grade 3

Grade 2

Grade 1

Total

No. of sites surveyed

38

59

111

208

No. of fields surveyed

55

70

129

254

No. of fields visited

199

70

129

398

Area visited

489

188

151

828

Average field size

2.5

2.7

1.2

 

% of group parish

 (Excluding common land)

8.4

3.2

2.6

14.2

 

Themore species-rich fields tended to be smaller but by no means always and thecrude averages hide a considerable range of field size for all conservationgrades. Surveyed grassland of the top grade for species richness amounted to151 hectares or 2.6% of the enclosed parish. Because the surveyors tended toseek out grassland of conservation interest it is difficult to extrapolate thisfigure to the group parish as a whole. Perhaps double that area of grade 1grassland remains giving an estimated 300 hectares.

Ithas been estimated by the UK Biodiversity Action Plan that only some 10,000hectares of unimproved grassland exists in lowland and enclosed farmland in England. On a pro-rata area basis Longtown’s share should be amount to 6 hectares! Whilethese are very rough figures it is clear that the group parish holds anunusually high proportion of this habitat type. 

Talkingto farmers it is clear that a number of grasslands which scored well forbiodiversity had been ploughed not that long ago. In at least one case naturalregeneration from the soil seed bank allowed the farmer to save buying anyseed. Some swards which were highly improved and species poor have sincerecovered much of the presumed original species richness following a numbers ofyears of management often under the Countryside Stewardship scheme. Grasslandsward composition responds to different stocking, mowing and fertiliser regimeswhile the soil seed bank allows a degree of re-colonisation of ploughed lands. More uncertain is the response of invertebrates, like meadow-specific moth andbutterfly species which have to survive the annual cycle of insect stages.

Somespecies rich grasslands on the deeper soils of the upper valley are becomingtaken over by Bracken, a management issue that also affects much of the commonmanagement grazing.

Mostof the survey work was done between May and August 1999 with a few sitesrecorded in 1998. The project has drawn up a list of 90 ‘general’ indicatorplants species recorded during the survey and which the project considerscharacteristic of the native unimproved grassland communities of the area and theseare listed in appendix 1. [Not available] Relatively few native grassesare present since many are part or have been part of grass seed mixtures. Asecond list is of 46 ‘key’ indicator plants which have been found during thesurvey and which are either rare or declining in grassland generally or seem tobe associated with the top grade of older biodiverse grasslands in this area.These are listed below together with the numbers of sites out of the sample of208 where they were found:

‘Key’ meadow indicators species  Table 1

Scientific name

English

No. Sites

% all sites

Achillea ptarmica

Sneezewort

8

3.8

Alchemilla sp.

Lady's-mantle

11

5.3

Anagallis minima

Chaffweed

1

0.5

Colchicum autumnale

Meadow Saffron

2

1

Dactylorhiza fuchsii

Common Spotted-orchid

4

1.9

Dactylorhiza sp.

Not identified Orchid

6

2.9

Epipactis helleborine

Broad-leaved Helleborine

1

0.5

Euphrasia sp.

Eyebright

4

1.9

Fragaria vesca

Wild Strawberry

2

1

Genista tinctoria

Dyer's Greenweed

3

1.4

Lathyrus linifolius

Bitter-vetch

7

3.4

Lathyrus pratensis

Meadow Vetchling

24

12

Leontodon hispidus

Rough Hawkbit

16

7.7

Leontodon saxatilis

Lesser Hawkbit

14

6.7

Leucanthemum vulgare

Oxeye Daisy

13

6.3

Listera ovata

Twayblade

1

0.5

Lotus corniculatus

Bird's-foot-trefoil

69

33

Lotus pedunculatus

Large Bird's-foot-trefoil

58

28

Lychnis flos-cuculi

Ragged Robin

5

2.4

Narcissus pseudonarcissus

Wild Daffodil

2

1

Orchis mascula

Early-purple Orchid

1

0.5

‘Key’ meadow indicators species continued..

Scientific name

English

No. Sites

% all sites

Pedicularis sylvatica

Lousewort

5

2.4

Pimpinella saxifraga

Burnet-saxifrage

26

13

Pinguicula vulgaris

Butterwort

1

0.5

Platanthera chlorantha

Greater Butterfly-orchid

1

0.5

Polygala serpyllifolia

Heath Milkwort

1

0.5

Polygala vulgaris

Milkwort

7

3.4

Primula veris

Cowslip

10

4.8

Primula vulgaris

Primrose

1

0.5

Ranunculus flammula

Lesser Spearwort

21

10

Rhinanthus minor

Yellow-rattle

14

6.7

Saxifraga granulata

Meadow Saxifrage

3

1.4

Stachys officinalis

Betony

15

7.2

Stellaria uliginosa

Bog Stitchwort

14

6.7

Succisa pratensis

Devil's-bit Scabious

21

10

Thymus

Wild Thyme

4

1.9

Tragopogon pratensis

Goat's-beard

3

1.4

Valeriana dioica

Marsh Valerian

2

1

Veronica officinalis

Heath Speedwell

27

13

Vicia cracca

Tufted Vetch

4

1.9

Viola riv/reich

Dog Violet

17

8.2

 

TheGreen Winged Orchid Orchis morio was initially recorded late in theseason from Walterstone but could not be confirmed.

A fair diversity of Sedge species were recorded:

Meadow Sedge Species Recorded

Scientific name

English

No. Sites

% all sites

Carex caryophyllea

Spring Sedge

9

4.3

Carex echinata

Star Sedge

8

3.8

Carex flacca

Glaucous Sedge

27

13.0

Carex hirta

Hairy Sedge

18

8.7

Carex nigra

Common Sedge

10

4.8

Carex ovalis

Oval Sedge

16

7.7

Carex pallescens

Pale Sedge

3

1.4

Carex panicea

Carnation Sedge

12

5.8

Carex pilulifera

Pill Sedge

4

1.9

Carex pulicaris

Flea Sedge

2

1.0

Carex remota

Remote Sedge

1

0.5

Carex spicata

Spiked Sedge

4

1.9

Carex sylvatica

Wood-sedge

1

0.5

 

Thereare two known specialities of the upper valley areas, the Globe Flower Trolliuseuropeaus and Upright Vetch Vicia orobus both now very rare anddeclining nationally. The survey did not come across either of them, althoughwe hope they are hanging on somewhere.

Thedistribution of the 208 grassland sites with one or more of these indicators isanalysed below (different Sedges species counted as one for the followinganalysis):

 

The same figures are shownbelow as a cumulative distribution of the numbers of

siteswith more than a certain number of key species:

From this chart 53 sites were surveyed which had 5 ormore of the key indicator species of table 1, and 14 sites had 10 or more keyspecies.  Some 61 sites (208 minus 147) had no key species. These figures aredisplayed in tabular numerical form including percentages in appendix 2. [Notavailable]

The data can be used to look at, for example, thereasons why different sites have particular combinations of species by queryingthe database for particular groups of plants. The grassland data set has takena considerable amount of time pull together but it can now be used to showscientifically the great diversity of grassland that exists in the parish,including areas which have potential for restoring biodiversity. It can also beused to help farmers individually or as a community to make a case foragri-environment resources and making better use of their wildlife assets.

An extract of the data for wet grassland and flushindicators in the enclosed meadows of the Group Parish is below:

Scientific name

English Name

No. of sites

Ajuga reptans

Bugle

30

Alopecurus geniculatus

Marsh Foxtail

15

Filipendula ulmaria

Meadowsweet

16

Galium palustre

Marsh-bedstraw

21

Isolepis setacea

Bristle Club-rush

12

Lychnis flos-cuculi

Ragged Robin

5

Mentha sp.

Mint

10

Ophioglossum vulgatum

Adder's-tongue

6

Pinguicula vulgaris

Butterwort

1

Stellaria uliginosa

Bog Stitchwort

14

Valeriana dioica

Marsh Valerian

2

 

Some aspects of grassland management require precisesystems of management with low inputs especially for certain meadowinvertebrates such as butterflies and moths. (see butterfly and moth section).

 

The Mountain

TheBlack Mountains rise to the west above the enclosed farmland of the Olchon and Monnow Valleys and form a spectacular ridge visible from most of Herefordshire before mergingbeyond the line of Offa’s Dyke into the moorland and valleys of the Brecon Beacons National Park. Above the upper Olchon valley, Craswall’s parish boundarywith Wales rises to just over 700 meters, the highest point in Herefordshirefrom where the ridge runs  14 km SE to Hatterall Hill next to SW Longtown. Thespur which tapers to a narrow ridge known at the Cat’s Back divides the UpperOlchon and Upper Monnow valleys.

Thistract of steep hill side and common grazing is part of the Black Mountain Siteof Special Scientific Interest designated for its upland moorland vegetationand associated habitats and extending westwards into Wales to cover some 7,927Ha. The Herefordshire part is entirely within Longtown Group Parish and amountsto 1,183 ha or 17% of the area of the Group parish and represents a complex ofupland geography and habitats unique to the county.

Themountain itself consists largely of Old Red Sandstone, some 400 million yearsold, subsequently deeply incised by river valleys following the tilt of theuplift to the SSE. They were further sculpted by the downward flow of icemasses off the mountain during the last ice age exposing overlaying horizontalstrata of more resistant rocks forming a complex landscape of great geologicalinterest. In the upper part of the Olchon Valley are outcrops of Limestone andcaps of harder Quartzite conglomerate rock, while along the ridge aboveLongtown the Red and Black Darrens are well known outcrops of shaley RedSandstone.

Thisis the only area of true upland habitat in Herefordshire varying from acidpeaty moorland on the top with Heather and Bilberry, to the Limestone outcrops,mountain streams and springs of the steeper slopes where the insectivorousButterwort, rare Brittle Bladder Fern, Limestone Polypody, Welsh Poppy andMossy Saxifrage grow. The deep valleys and proximity of the enclosed farmlandmakes this landscape one of quickly varying transition from mountain to valleybottom. A number of bird and insect species characteristic of mountains are atthe edge of the geographical distribution. 

Enclosedmeadows which abut the moorland are sometimes unimproved former haymeadowswhich still retain a variety of indicator plants such as Eyebright, Tormentiland Autumn Crocus. The Black Mountains SSSI boundary includes some of them.

Theproject did not survey the mountain for its vegetation as this has been thesubject of a number of studies already, but some moth surveys were carried out andthe mountain is included in the forthcoming BTO bird survey of the BlackMountains and Golden Valley which has relied on the Olchon Development Projectfor local knowledge.

Data on Farming and Environment in the Group Parish.

 

Tithe Surveys

The first comprehensive landuse survey of the Group Parish was undertaken following the Tithe CommutationAct of 1836 which commuted church taxes levied in each Parish from an in-kindpayment into a standardised monetary rate per area of land. To calculate thetithe dues of each parish, surveys were commissioned into land use, area,ownership and tenancy of every piece of eligible land in each parish of theland. It was in effect the first national land use survey since Domesday,mapping and listing land parcels to the smallest unit of land measure a ‘pole’(0.23 % of a hectare). The maps and their ‘apportionments’ for Craswall,Llanveynoe, Longtown, and Walterstone, (surveyed 1840-43, 1840-41, 1840-41 and1839-41 respectively) are held by the Hereford Records Office and are animportant source of information about local history and land use. Farmed landin the group parish was classified as ‘arable’, ‘meadow’, ‘pasture’ or ‘roughpasture’, while woodland was ‘wood’, ‘brake’, ‘orls’ or ‘plantation’.

Thename of a field or wood can often indicate its earlier history or presentcharacter and this is one of the important facts recorded in most Tithesurveys, but for this parish group only Walterstone has a good coverage offield and wood names with only a scattering of names in the other parishes.

Thelocal history society has conducted a major review of the Tithe survey data -see the Local History Report (2) Field Name Survey.

Thereis also a wealth of farm, estate or manorial documents, often in private handsor awaiting discovery in libraries and records offices which can shed light onmany aspects of the parish farming, land use and the way of life which is thesubject of much original research by the History Group.

 

6” Inch to the MileOrdnance Survey Maps

These were published in 1887and introduced, for the first and only time in British cartography, symbols forindividual trees as well as for coppice, plantation, rough pasture, scrub andponds. The maps show the extent of unimproved rough pasture and give a goodidea of the real tree cover of the area in the early 1880’s (the survey tookmany years to compile).  They also demonstrate that much of what was describedas ‘rough pasture’ or even just ‘pasture’ by the Tithe maps and surveys of 1840were grazed woodland or wood-pasture. The 6” map clearly delineates woodeddingles, wood-pasture, parkland and hedgerows trees all contributing to arichly treed pastoral countryside whose trees were unlikely to have all sprungup in the 40 years from 1840. Although the agricultural depression started inthe cereal sector in the 1870s, livestock prices were holding their own orincreasing up to the 1880s when the OS maps were surveyed, so is it unlikelythat grazing density on pasture would have reduced, if at all, in the 40 yearsfollowing the Tithe survey.

The only plantations whichappear on the 6” map are the same two which are mapped by the Tithe survey andone of those has been reduced to a scatter of conifer symbols.  The treesymbols on the 6” map almost certainly indicate trees which were growing at thetime of the Tithe survey and probably underestimate Tithe survey tree cover,since the trend throughout the mid Victorian period for Herefordshire as awhole was to fell farmland trees and the convert woodland to agriculture.

To see how a sample tract ofthe parish countryside is shown as it appears in on the c1840 Tithe map, the1887 6” OS map and the 1995 aerial photographic survey of Herefordshire seefigure 3. [Not available]

 

National Farm Survey1940-1943

Recently (1993) releasedinto the public domain under the 50 year rule this wartime survey details eachindividual holding over five acres, consisting, in addition to the usual Junecensus data, information such as conditions on the farm, availability ofelectricity, how the farm is managed, which fields are to be ploughed for thewar effort etc., as well as an annotated map of each farm. This data is merelynoted as existing but has not been looked at. It is likely to be important as avery detailed assessment of the state of agriculture and land use as well as ofgreat interest to local historians and farmers. The PRO reference numbers areMAF/32 for the survey forms and MAF/73 for the maps.

 

Herefordshire PlanningSurvey 1946 was part of the post warreconstruction planning process co-ordinated at a West Midland region. It containsan interesting overview of the county at the time. The sections on livestockand grassland have been quoted in the grassland section here.

 

Parish Summaries of theJune Returns

Themain source of agricultural statistics for more than a century has been theannual records of cropping, grassland, livestock and later labour which farmholdings have had to give to MAFF each summer for the compilation of parish,county and national agricultural statistics. The series starts in 1866 when the‘returns’ were voluntary and produced figures of limited accuracy but from 1917farmers have had to supply the information by statute. The data was aggregatedfor each parish and originals destroyed.

These ‘parish summaries’ area valuable source of statistical data on local farming patterns and land usetrends although the types of questions asked on the census forms have changedover the years making time series analysis tricky to interpret. Another sourceof inaccuracy is that holdings may farm land in adjacent parishes or furtheraway. A serious problem occurred with this national data source in 1988 when itwas decided that some farm sizes were becoming so large compared with someparishes that publication could threaten confidentiality. Data in adjacentparishes were aggregated into ‘agricultural parish groups’, typically 4 or 5parishes for this area which often straddle dissimilar farming areas, but from1989 data from these groups has been the smallest geographic area available.Further difficulties arise since for the first time figures for the numbers ofholdings and the workforce were rounded to the nearest multiple of 5 makingsocio-economic analysis at group parish level difficult and comparisons withearlier years impossible.

The Olchon project groupparish is split between two much larger parish groups so the available figureswere meaningless for this project. The project has obtained the individualreturns for each of the four parishes for years 1968, 1974, 1980 and 1988 andthese combined with the FRCA Longtown group data are presented overleaf:

 

Farming Trends in Longtown Group Parish

Number of farms in group parish

1968

1974

1980

1986

1992

1997

Under 20 ha

50

42

39

46

57

63

Over 20 ha

97

96

93

88

84

81

Over 50 ha

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

32

31

Total recorded holdings

147

138

132

134

141

144

Time series analysis is made complex for employment and farm numbers since MAFF's definitions change through the years. Data for 1974 -1986 is more comprehensive than that for 1990-1997, which are summaries of core data, but are incompatible. For example, spouses of farmers, partners and directors are not disaggregated for >1990 data.

Employment data collected for June returns prior to 1988 is incompatible with later returns.

The June returns record "part time" and "casual" employment. These are taken as 1/2 and 1/6 of a full time job or

"FTE" = Full Time Equivalent job.

Agricultural support to the group parish expressed as average £/job and £/farm. The latter for farms over 20 ha (occupying 88% farmland) and over 50 Ha (occupying 58%) farmland.

On-farm employment

Full time

166

173

Part time

68

65

Casual

25

23

FTE

204

209

Agricultural support per job and per farm (see below)

Average £/FTE

 

£4,601

Average £/Farm >20 ha

£10,498

Average £/Farm >50ha

£17,920

 

Livestock

Numbers of animals

1968

1974

1980

1986

1992

1997

Beef Cattle

4,784

5,493

4,285

4,815

3,595

3,474

Dairy Cattle

274

379

346

341

322

341

All Cattle

5,058

5,872

4,631

5,156

3,917

3,815

Sheep

44,405

49,990

55,842

67,802

63,418

64,915

 

Augmenting the June Returndata the project obtained details of the annual subsidies for each parish fromthe years 1993 to 1997 in respect of all direct support schemes administered byMAFF. This has been useful for analysing the sensitivity of the area’s farmingto changes in European and national agricultural policy especially with theAgenda 2000 reforms and the future impacts of the WTO negotiations over thenext few years. These figures have been used to inform the Rural Business Needssection.

See overleaf:

 

Farm subsidies in Longtown Group Parish

Farm subsidy by Scheme 1997 Data from MAFF June returns and FRCA Worcester.

Scheme

Craswall

Llanveynoe

Longtown

Walterstone

Group parish total

% Total support

Suckler Cow Premium

£43,023

£20,068

£40,500

£5,715

£109,306

11.3

Extensification premium

£11,907

£3,021

£12,187

£585

£27,700

2.9

HLCA

£90,005

£39,072

£59,578

£4,403

£193,058

20.0

Sheep Annual Premium

£149,401

£50,714

£129,322

£16,287

£345,724

35.9

Sheep Annual Premium LFA supp.

£66,291

£22,502

£53,927

£4,383

£147,103

15.3

Beef Special Premium Scheme

£17,661

£4,055

£31,759

£6,422

£59,897

6.2

Arable Area Payment (1998 figure)

n/a (1)

n/a

n/a

n/a

£9,931

1.0

Dairy (2)

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

£27,730

2.9

Countryside Stewardship Scheme Capital payment (3)

£30,538

3.2

Countryside Stewardship Scheme Revenue payment (3)

£12,238

1.3

Total agricultural support (4)

£378,288

£139,432

£327,273

£37,795

£963,225

100.0

non LFA

£221,992

£77,858

£213,768

£29,009

£623,064

64.7

LFA

£156,296

£61,574

£113,505

£8,786

£340,161

35.3

% LFA of Total

41.3

44.2

34.7

23.2

35.3

 

Total headage

 

 

 

 

£882,788

 

Total headage as % total support

 

 

 

 

91.6

 

CSS total

 

 

 

 

£42,776

 

CSS total as % total support

 

 

 

 

4.4

 

Longtown Group Parish Area, Hectares

2,096

1,865

2,533

508

7,002

 

Average CAP support per Hectare

 

 

 

 

£137.56

 

Farm support in Herefordshire (1997)

Total agricultural support (excluding BSE compensation)

£31,858,552

 

County Area, Hectares

216,000

 

Average CAP support per Hectare

£147.49

 

 

Notes:

(1)Information by parish not available

(2)Dairy sector is indirectly supported through export refunds, storage &intervention. This estimate of £9,931 is derived by dividing UK dairy support (£210m 1997/98) by the total dairy herd (2,587,000 =£81.32 per dairy cow)and multiplying by parish group dairy herd (341).

(3)CCS expenditure is estimated by annualising the available 1998 figures for 10year scheme commitments (from FRCA Worcester).

(4)Excludes BSE compensation to farms, which can be estimated as follows: In 1997£446m were paid out under the OTMS & CPAS schemes, which was equivalent to£38.46 per head of the total UK cattle population (11,609,000). If the Longtowngroup parish was typical of the national average, BSE compensation of £146,725obtained by multiplying £38.46 by the recorded total cattle (3,815). Thisbrings the total cost of public farm support in Longtown Group Parish to£1,109,950.

 

Aerial Photographs

The 1946 - 1950’s RAF set ofaerial photographs is fairly complete and includes quite a lot of low levelcoverage. The Ordnance Survey has a large Black and White aerial photography ofthe county including the group parish.

Colour photography of thefour parishes is available from the Brecon Beacon National Parks flights taken in1983 and the National Remote Sensing Centre has flown Herefordshire in colourin 1995. These recent air photographs have been acquired by the project for theenvironmental assessment.

 

Other data includes:

The1976 Habitat Survey of Herefordshire; Herefordshire Ancient Woodland Inventory1986; Three Counties Meadow Survey 1988; Hereford & Worcester Wildlife SiteRegister 1992; Black Mountains SSSI Survey 1970s to1990s.

Thereare a number policy papers from English Nature and Countryside Agency whichcover the Black Mountains and Golden Valley area, but these are fairly broad inscope and reliant on old data.

There is at present anon-going process of Biodiversity Action Plans, Habitat Action Plans and SpeciesAction Plans being formulated in partnership with the main agencies andvoluntary groups.

 

 

The Olchon Development Project

Environmental Audit

Supplementary Material & Footnotes

 

 

Meadow Plants

One of 5 environmental training and recording days carried out during the course of the project

 

 

Dyer’s Greenweed Genista tinctoria growing in one of the few remaining old meadows in where it thrives (This is from Walterstone). Formerly quite common, pasture improvements, fertilisers and high stocking levels have resulted in this plant and many other native meadows plants declining sharply in recent years.

Longtown group parish may have more species rich grassland than most parts of the county.

 

 

 

 

Traditional hay meadow in Walterstone.

Common Spotted orchid, Knapweed and variety of grasses. Such meadows are now nationally rare and declining. Their management is difficult and depends upon committed livestock farmers.

 

 

 

 

Spotted Orchids growing in one of a number of surviving unimproved wet meadows in the upper reaches of the Monnow near the watershed with Wye. Northern Craswall.

 

 

 

Eyebright from one of the enclosed meadows near the Cat’s Back.

 

The Mountains

 


The Cat’s Black from the upper Olchon valley. Tops are capped by quartz sandstone conglomerates and Limestone which produces varied thin soils home to a number of unusual montane vegetation communities. Enclosed fields are likely to be ancient lattice remnants of medieval Oak-Alder-Ash wood-pasture systems.

 

 

Welsh Poppy, rare among rocks above the Darren

 

Mossy saxifrage, a rare plant of upland scree on the Mountain in Craswall

 

Woodlands and Hedgerows

 

 

The oldest living entity in Herefordshire?

A massive 9 meter wide Lime tree with seven stems. Straddling a boundary between farms, above Clodock Church this would have been ancient at the time of Domesday. Lime was abundant during the warm Neolithic area since when they have become rare as they do not naturally regenerate from seed in the wild. Surviving native Limes in woods and hedgerows of West Herefordshire are likely to be direct descendants of the original wild wood Lime population.

 

 

 

An Alder coppice, Ash and Oak Bluebell wood in Longtown. The survey has recorded many plants characteristic of the ground flora of old woodland but the proportion of woodlands with diverse flora is small mainly because of grazing levels. Most woodland will recover if fenced from stock.

 

 

Heavily grazed Alder woodland, Llanvenoe. Although wood pasture systems have been feature of the area for many hundreds of years, current stocking levels in woodland are preventing regeneration and damaging the ground flora. Incentives for removing or reducing stocking in woods cannot compete with headage payments.

 

New native tree planting on pasture, Llanvenoe. There are only a small number of farmland planting schemes in the area at present. Native woodland will also naturally colonise open ground if left.

 

 

 

 

Butterflies and Moths

 

Studying grassland insects in meadows.

 

 

The day flying Six Spot Burnet Moth larva, pupa and adults. Depend on unimproved and species rich grassland for their survival. 

Glyphipterix equitella is one of over a thousand species of micro-moth, some having specialised habitat requirements. This one lives its life cycle on Sedum on walls and roofs. Very rare, Craswall is almost the only known county site. These photographs are from Dukes Farm, Craswall.

 

 

The Emperor Moth and larva, only found on Heather moorland, seen in western Craswall.

 

The Twin Spot Carpet moth, common but characteristic of heather moorland

 

 



[1] The project is indebted to Clare Wychbold of Lower Maescoed for this information as well as for giving the project access to originaldata from her involvement with the Craswall archaeological site.

[2] The Marches Uplands: an assessment of the palaeoenvironmentalevidence. 1992. Clare de Rouffignac. Marches Upland Survey. Hereford and Worcester County Archaeological Service.

[3] Welsh Woods and Forests: History and Utilisation byWilliam Linnard. 1982 National Museum of Wales.

[4] The Journey through Wales and Description of Wales by Gerald of Wales. Translation by Lewis Thorpe. Penguin 1978.

[5] Economic history of Dore Abbey: White Monks in Gwentand Borders by Rev. David H. Williams. 1976. Griffin Press, Pontypool.

[6] The Revolt of Owain Glyn Dwr by R.R. Davies OUP 1995

[7]Calendar of Inquiry Henry VII HMSO 1955.

[8] As much land as could be ploughed by an oxen team inone year. Equivalent to a ‘hide’ and very roughly 100 acres.

[9] British farming in the Great depression 1870 – 1914by P.J. Perry 1974. Quoted from Agricultural Depression 1870 to 1900 by G. M.Robinson Transaction of the Woolhope Naturalists’ Filed Club Volume XLII 1978.

[10] The Land of Britain. The Report of the LandUtilisation Survey of Britain 1938 by T. Stuart-Menteith. Detailed Maps wereproduced and the original are held at University College Library, London, Copies are difficult to obtain.

[11] The West Midland Group on Post-War Reconstruction andPlanning. A Planning Survey of Herefordshire. Faber and Faber 1946

[12] Fuller, R., 1987 Loss of unimproved Grassland in Britain since the 1930’s HMSO.

[13] As of 1999 MAFF have introduced an upland hay meadowoption in CS which pays £150 per hectare. This is conditional upon a whole farmsurvey. The regional budgets for this option are likely to be very restricted.


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