Restoring biodiversity to an old hill farm

Rwt gilfach valley

At a glance


Powys, Wales


117 hectares

Start date





Upland, Mixed woodland, Wetlands (including peatlands and marsh), Rivers and streams, Grassland and meadow and Heathlands and shrub

Key species

Salmon, Galloway cattle, Pied flycatcher, Dippers, Redstart, small pearl-bordered fritillary, fungi sp, Brook lamprey, Grayling and Welsh clearwing

Rewilding actions

Habitat restoration, Tree Planting, Natural regeneration and Reduction in grazing

Engaging people

Volunteering, Tourism, Recreation, Education programme and Trainees

Gilfach supports a nature reserve in the Marteg Valley in the heart of rural mid Wales. Biodiversity and nature restoration is central to the vision for the site, and nature has been returning since the project began in 1988.

It is now grazed by low numbers of Welsh Whites and Belted Galloway cattle as well as Welsh mountain sheep. The number of grazing animals has been significantly reduced, which has resulted in a diversity of habitats as well as wildlife. The reserve supports a diversity of birds such as pied flycatchers, dippers, redstarts, Goshawk and wood warbler. Salmon are also present on the River Marteg which flows through the reserve. The project is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI and a SPA and SAC).


A visitor centre is present on the reserve, and the site welcomes 12,000 visitors per year. Several public footpaths and trails run across the reserve to encourage recreation and tourism to the area. This has a wider impact on the local community, bringing visitors into the area and supporting other businesses in the local area.

Education events are also hosted on the site, and the cottage is rented on the reserve for additional project income. They are investigating room hire and have sold refreshments prior to Covid 19 and will look to do so again.


Rewilding was kick-started across the reserve through a reduction in grazing animals, namely sheep which was achieved by installing fences against neighbouring land. Extensive grazing was introduced across the project (open hillsides), and low numbers of Welsh mountain sheep and Welsh whites /Belted Galloway cattle were introduced to create a mosaic of habitats.

Some small scale tree planting has been undertaken on the reserve to supplement natural regeneration and encourage new woodlands to become established. Pond creation and wetland creation was also undertaken. Non-native conifer plantations were removed from the area to encourage more natural habitat.

Images: Radnorshire Wildlife Trust & James Hitchcock


Cowgilfach misty em
Cows grazing wyloer 1
Rwt gilfach river marteg
PXL 20201113 135203541 MP

Future Plans

  1. 1 Continue monitoring biodiversity, SSSI condition assessments, fixed point photography, visitor numbers and visitor opinions
  2. 2 Consider species reintroductions including globeflower, devil’s-bit scabious and marsh fritillary
  3. 3 Review grazing arrangements on the conventional meadows and consider more extensive options
  4. 4 Continue to employ an annual summer warden at the site
  5. 5 Investigate new income streams for the site though buildings and courses
  6. 6 Run events aimed at land owners and managers to share what we have done at Gilfach

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