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Southwood Estate, Uncategorized

Why we want rain at Southwood Farm

By Andrew Tuddenham, Manager North Pembrokeshire

We issued this press release before Easter:

Newly planted blackthorn and hawthorn hedge at Southwood Farm, March 2014

Newly planted blackthorn and hawthorn hedge at Southwood Farm, March 2014

 

 A £70,089 grant from SITA Trust has enabled the National Trust to undertake an ambitious project to restore lost hedgerows on some of the charity’s farmland between Newgale beach and Roch.

Work is underway to construct 1.1km of Pembrokeshire hedgebanks at Southwood farm. These hedgebanks and their valuable hedgerow habitats were removed by agricultural changes during the last century.

The project is constructing hedgebanks across three pasture fields at Southwood farm, and one in an arable field near Maidenhall car park at the south end of Newgale beach.

Andrew Tuddenham, Manager North Pembrokeshire said “This is a significant boost for nature conservation here. It’s a bold project that will greatly enhance the farm’s value for wildlife. The hedgebanks will be planted with nearly 8,000 hedgerow trees, and we’re hoping to see farmland birds and bats moving in to use this new habitat as it becomes established.”

Contractors are building the hedgebanks, in part using the traditional methods of the Pembrokeshire stone–faced cloddiau. Volunteers have been planting the hedgerows in recent weeks.

Marek Gordon CEO and Chairman of SITA Trust added “We are delighted to have been able to support this project through the Landfill Communities Fund. This important source of funding has been available since 1997 and has provided such worthy projects with more than £1.2 billion.”

SITA Trust provides funding through the Landfill Communities Fund. Funding is available for projects that enhance communities and enrich nature.

So far, around 4,000 hedgerow saplings have been planted on the new hedgebanks around Southwood farm.  The mix has been around 80% blackthorn and 20% hawthorn, all UK provenance stock.

Leading this marathon task has been Ranger Matt Thompson, leading our mid-week Volunteer Conservation Assistants, a Working Holiday group in March and with some extra help from Pembrokeshire Coast National Park volunteers.

Volunteer Conservation Assistants planting one of the hedgerows at Southwood Farm, March 2014

The brown sheet on top of the hedgebank is a Hytex biodegradable membrane to smother any competing vegetation and hold some moisture into the top soil.  These plantings need all the help they can get to establish in this windy, coastal location.  The membrane should rot away within a few years, together with the biodegradable pegs and Colby Woodland Garden bamboo stakes that pin it into place.

We’re thankful now whenever it rains – despite the thorough soaking they received in the winter storms, the hedgebanks were drying up quickly as spring got underway. The warm winds of March added to the threat to the delicate saplings.  They need a good soaking now to encourage some root growth, so we’re just hoping we don’t get a drought this summer.  Sorry about that!

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