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  • Writer's pictureBryn Aggregates

Management plan secures future of Gelligaer nature area

The long-term management of Waun Rydd Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC) in Gelligaer has been assured following an agreement reached by Caerphilly Council with Bryn Aggregates Limited, which is part of Bryn Group.


The Section 106 Agreement sees Bryn Group fund the installation of earth dams and maintenance of the SINC to encourage more traditional wetland grass species and mosses to establish populations across the re-wetted land, providing ideal pools for amphibians. Bryn Group is in the process of preparing a management plan, to be approved by the Council, that will aim to improve the biodiversity of the area.


Waun Rydd, known locally as “the common” although it was never in council ownership, was surveyed by Caerphilly Council in 1998 and then designated as a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC) because of the habitats found there. The marshy grassland and peat bog, with its range of typical plant species, are all dependent upon wet ground conditions being sustained. There is no stream or spring feeding water into the site: all of the water in the ground comes from rain and snowfall, which is why the earth dams built by Bryn Group are so important.


Bryn Group surveyed the site again in 2019, which confirmed it still qualified for the SINC classification based on the species present, although some of the habitats had reduced as a result of drying-out and fire damage. Water channels within the bog areas were therefore blocked with earth dams during 2019, to ensure the collection, pooling and retention of rainwater across the bog areas and so benefit the water-dependent habitats.


The Waun Rydd SINC is adjacent to the Bryn Group sandstone quarry and the screening mounds (or “bunds”) allow more water to drain from the outer faces of the mounds into the wetter areas. The planned planting of trees, shrubs and grassland with wildflowers across the bund will add to the variety of vegetation and provide good food sources of birds, bees, and butterflies. The variation in the height of vegetation will be important for the encouragement of lapwing breeding grounds but dogs will need to be kept out of this area.


Alun Price, managing director at Bryn Group, said: “We propose to manage Waun Rydd and the bunds as nature areas to sustain and, where possible, to enhance its nature conservation value. To help us maintain the open marshy grassland and bog habitats, we are going to enlist the services of goats to graze the area during the summer months, April to October each year. These animals naturally browse a wide range of vegetation and they will help to prevent invasion by trees and shrubs that would eventually dry out the ground.


“The other aspect of managing the SINC is the introduction of allotment gardens along the boundary with Aneurin Bevan Avenue. That strip of land is susceptible to fly tipping and wild-fire arson attacks, so the allotments will provide a barrier to that anti-social behaviour; create a community amenity; and contribute to the improving biodiversity of the area.


“We are also going to register a new public footpath to improve and secure public access, although it is best that dogs are not allowed to run free across the SINC if we want to encourage ground-nesting birds.


“Bryn Group is committed to working with local communities to improve the land we work. We currently manage around 350 hectares, which is mostly fields and natural habitats such as hedgerows and woodland. We have returned many hectares of the old opencast mine at Gelligaer Colliery (Powell’s Works) to green fields, and will do the same with our quarry once the scarce and important sandstone found there has been extracted.


“We are delighted to have signed this agreement with Caerphilly Council and to work with their conservation and ecology officers to protect and conserve this important natural habitat.”

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