Cambrian Wildwood /​Coetir Anian

Restoring habitats and species in the wildwood to connect people with wildlife and wild places

Cattle in woodland 26 08 20

At a glance

Location

Glaspwll, near Machynlleth, Ceredigion

Area

350 acres

Start date

2011

Scale

Medium

Habitats

Upland, Wood pasture, Rivers and streams, Heathlands and shrub, Blanket bog and Celtic rainforest

Key species

Pine marten, Otter, Horses, Hen harrier, Cattle, Red grouse and Red kite

Rewilding actions

Extensive grazing, Habitat restoration, Tree Planting, Species reintroduction and Natural regeneration

Engaging people

Volunteering, Recreation, Education programme and Wellness programme

Cambrian Wildwood is a local community initiative dedicated to restoring natural habitats and native species to a substantial area in the Cambrian Mountains of Mid Wales. The project is not promoted as rewilding due to local sensitivities around the term, but as a nature restoration project it has similarities to other projects in the Network.

The long term goal for Cambrian Wildwood is an area of around 7,000 acres. The project aims to allow natural processes to dominate, without aiming for any particular outcomes, though management of herbivore numbers will be required for the foreseeable future.

A big element of the project is about providing opportunities for people to interact with nature in this unique wild location. Most people are cut off from the land and have a longing to connect with nature, but often feel like intruders in the landscape. Cambrian Wildwood seeks to redress this imbalance – connection with the land is the right of all people. As a community resource, local people can participate in a project set in their local landscape, or use the site for recreation – trails and wild camping zones have been created to allow people to experience a wild landscape in a place where they can feel welcome.

In addition, the project works with local primary schools and holds wild camps for teenagers, asylum seekers, and as part of an addiction recovery programme. There are also commercial camps for adults and for families. There are around 50 volunteers actively engaged in the project.

KICK-STARTING REWILDING

All internal fencing was removed to allow for extensive grazing and to enable an uncompartmentalised landscape to evolve, as well as enhancing the feeling of wildness. Konik horses and Highland cattle were introduced as feral herds which are monitored for their welfare. The cattle spend the summer on the site, and migrate to neighbouring land during other seasons, while the horses are present all year. Drainage ditches totalling 11 kilometers in length were blocked to restore the natural hydrology of the peatland habitats: blanket bog and upland heathland. Trees are planted on a rolling programme of about 500 per year, using ‘no fence’ strategies: the trees are planted in locations where they are unlikely to be browsed by the herbivores. Tree planting is necessary in combination with natural regeneration, because much of the site is remote from native trees, and because of the bracken and purple moor grass which inhibit tree regeneration. Some tree species which were absent from the site but show in the pollen record to be previously present have been reintroduced: common alder and Scots pine. A small larch plantation is being thinned to gradually restore to native tree composition.

Images: Cambrian Wildwood

Gallery

Heather 09 09 20
Camp area 25 05 21 original
Fire by friction 25 06 19 original
Yn eu cotiau Gaeaf 30 12 19 original
Wet heathland 03 06 21
Llechwedd Einion 4 27 05 17

Find out more

Future Plans

  1. 1 Increase wildlife at Cambrian Wildwood by leading reintroduction projects for water vole and red squirrel; and supporting other species projects, for example pine marten and black grouse.
  2. 2 Continue to monitor change on site, including NVC vegetation surveys, hydrology, tree cover, birds, invertebrates and mammals
  3. 3 Continue the Primary Schools programme and the Youth Camps at Cambrian Wildwood
  4. 4 Continue the programmes for adults, including the commercial camps and programmes for special groups: people in addiction recovery, asylum seekers and young carers
  5. 5 Engage with neighbouring landowners, including Natural Resources Wales, to support habitat, species and access improvements across the wider landscape
  6. 6 Increase the land area under ownership of the charity when opportunities arise

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