Wyeswood Common Project (completed)

Wyeswood Common is an ambitious grassland restoration project in the heart of Monmouthshire's Wye Valley AONB.

In January 2008 GWT purchased 104 acres of wildlife-poor commercial dairy pasture near Monmouth, in the Wye Valley AONB. In a phenomenal and quite unprecedented fundraising effort the Trust brought in over £636 000 in only a few months. This was enough for the Trust to buy Wyeswood Common and fund the project for a further 5 years to kick-start the envisaged habitat restoration.

Wyeswood is adjacent to Pentwyn Farm, a GWT nature reserve of 40 acres of farmland. This purchase has enabled Pentwyn to become connected to the Wye Valley woodlands nearby, establishing a vital connection for a number of species such as greater butterfly and green winged orchid, lesser horseshoe bat and dormouse.

Included in the 40 acres at Pentwyn Farm is 20 acres of land with the intact medieval field pattern, but where 40 years of agricultural intensification had wiped out many of the wildflowers. A return to traditional management under GWT ownership has allowed most of the original flora to flourish by ‘jumping the hedge’ from the untouched parts of Pentwyn Farm, reverting this ‘improved land’ to a species-rich wildlife habitat.

GWT intends to repeat this habitat restoration on an even more dramatic scale at Wyeswood. The long term aim of the project is to re-create a varied mosaic of grassland, woodland and scrub supporting an abundance of wildlife.

The main focus of the project has been to restore grassland and woodland habitats, re-introduce a sensitive conservation grazing regime and introduce new on-site interpretation and public access routes. This has involved:

  • Removing nutrients from the highly fertilised grassland by cutting for hay and silage
  • Re-introducing wildflowers via seed collected from Pentwyn Farm
  • Planting over 8000 trees, creating 6.3ha of new woodland and erecting 900m of deer fencing to protect the largest planting block
  • Creating 250m of new hedgerow and planting up gaps in the existing network
  • Improving infrastructure for grazing including installing over 4000 metres of stock fencing and 1440 metres of water pipe with additional water troughs
  • Re-introducing grazing to open up the grassland and allow space for wildflower seeds to establish

In addition:

  • 3 new interpretation panels have been installed at Wyeswood and Pentwyn to compliment 2.7km of new way marked trail that takes in both reserves
  • New parking has been created and many metres of dry stone wall restored around the medieval barn to improve the visitor experience at these sites

Volunteers have been involved heavily in the Project undertaking practical work, a variety of monitoring roles and livestock checking. Volunteer time spent surveying has produced many new records for Wyeswood including dormice, grass snake and tree pipit.

What lies ahead?

Grassland restoration continues on Wyeswood using a combination of hay cutting or grazing as appropriate. It is hoped cattle grazing will be re-introduced on the reserve in the very near future to increase the ecological niches available to wildlife and greater enhance the sward. Informal seed and green hay trials will continue, with GWT’s Newgrove Meadows reserve being used as an additional seed source this summer. For more information on Wyeswood Common please click here.