Work Parties on the Wye

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Feb 122015

The Wye & Usk Foundation have been coordinating litter and rubbish removal from the Wye for 10 years now, clearing 900 miles of river bank and shifting over 100 tons of rubbish so far! The various tributaries (Ithon, Irfon, Lugg, Arrow, Monnow and all the smaller ones) have been cleared and on the main river, the charity had worked its way down from the source to Luggsmouth by May 2014.

This year they are tackling the final stretch from Luggsmouth down to Chepstow and they are looking for local volunteers to help. Their aim is to find organisations that can take on a stretch, and Tom Ward-Jackson of Keep Wales Tidy is helping to coordinate volunteers.

They will be leading small groups of helpers at least twice a week most weeks between now and the end of April.  In February they are working their way down to Ross, and then on down towards the mouth of the Wye.  The dates for the Monmouthshire section have not yet been announced.

There’s more about the project on the Wye & Usk Foundation web site

For more information or to get involved, please contact Tony Norman


Jan 272015

SeedSwopFeb15Dean Meadows Group has alerted us to this event on Sunday 8th February: a Forest-wide Big Seed Swap at 5pm at the Bailey Inn in Yorkley, GL15 4RP.

Bring your spare seeds, as well as seedling or bulbs, to swap and share. All will be free but please label your seed packets carefully with as much detail as possible – with the name and the specific variety, as well as the year they were harvested (or ‘the use by’ date if seeds were bought).  Any queries contact

More Grazing Options

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Jan 252015

Not the actual sheep but these Jacobs lambs are too cute to resist, and they are a good conservation grazing breed

Many MMG members have been looking for help with conservation grazing of their meadows, and we now have two more farmers with sheep they are willing to transport to members fields.

We’ve been contacted by James Edwards near Usk who has a small flock of sheep which are run on an extensive, minimal input system.  Some are currently grazed in the Trellech area.  James is interested in conservation grazing and is offering his animals to help out Meadows group members looking for grazing help.  He can transport the sheep and will keep an eye on them, and is willing to travel if the ground is suitable.  He says they are a hardy, calm group.  Email James on

We also have a farmer near Ross who has sheep available for grazing.  Please contact Glynis Laws if you would like him to contact you.

All our conservation grazing contacts are included in our Contractors list under ‘Stock for Grazing’.

Alpacas for Sale

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Jan 092015

Willow Farm AlpacasJanParkerAlpaca

MMG member Jan Parker has a pair of solid white, male alpacas for sale (in the picture)

They are BAS registered, 18 months old, with quality genetics

Fully vaccinated and wormed

Anyone interested please contact Jan on 01600 772891

Oct 302014
Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary seen at Silent Valley Reserve 16 June 2014: Jon Dunkelman

Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary seen at Silent Valley Reserve 16 June 2014: Jon Dunkelman

Following their enjoyable day in October when owners of Local Wildlife Sites met at Llanishen to share stories and enjoy a fungi walk in New Grove Meadows, GWT are hosting another event on Sunday 30 November in their beautiful Silent Valley Reserve.  Although it’s largely aimed at Local Wildlife Site owners, other members of MMG are welcome to attend, but GWT would appreciate advance notice.

There will be a guided walk looking at some of the land management issues on site.  The event will begin from the car-park at the reserve, Cendl Terrace, Cwm, Ebbw Vale, Blaenau Gwent at 10am and will run till approximately mid-day.

The event is free but numbers are limited; if you would like to attend (or have more details) please contact Andy Karran at GWT by the 31st October 2014 on or 01600 740600.

Location and reserve information on the GWT website

Oct 192014

Gwent Wildlife TrustGWT have produced a series of useful publications on habitat management, as part of the Local Wildlife Sites in SE Wales project.  These are available to download from the GWT web site as pdf’s (see below) or you can get hold of resilient printed copies at their Local Wildlife Site Owners Days.  There are 14 in total covering a range of habitat issues including managing different types of grassland, hedgerows, marshes, ponds and specific problems such as scrub and bracken control and unwanted invasive species.

Download the toolkits from (scroll down the page to the Downloads section)

Oct 122014

SEWBReC logoSouth East Wales Biodiversity Recorders Centre (SEWBReC) produce the Gwent-Glamorgan Recorders’ Newsletter which usually has items of interest to Meadows Group members.

The autumn issue published in October 2014 (pdf) includes a report from Steph Tyler and Elsa Wood (Monmouthshire’s Botanical Recorders) on their highlights of 2014; information about the Local Records Centre’s Data Access Tool (which is free for anyone to use without registering at and you can easily waste a few hours on it); an article about Mary Gillham, pioneering female scientist who travelled the world in the 1950s, and the project to digitise her drawings and photographs of her beloved wildlife of South Wales; several articles covering some of the more obscure groups of invertebrates, and much more.

You can download back copies of their newsletters from their web site.

Sep 282014

In July this year, three leading wildlife charities: Plantlife, The Wildlife Trusts and The Rare Breeds Survival Trust, held a conference to discuss the need for radical new action to reverse the loss of the UK’s meadow heritage.  Prince Charles attended, as did representatives from Defra, academics and practitioners from conservation, food and farming and rural development.

Well known naturalist Mark Avery (former Conservation Director of the RSPB) produced a report of the meeting which is available to download as a pdf from Plantlife’s web site (link below).  It’s well worth reading (and Monmouthshire Meadows Group gets a mention, as well as the Parish Grasslands Project). 

Reversing the Trend (pdf)

Mark wrote a version of his report on his blog

The organisations involved are now tasked with keeping up the momentum from this initiative.  Here in Monmouthshire and across the river in Gloucestershire we’ve led the way, and around the country other initiatives are springing up.  One of the latest is Bedfordshire Cambridgeshire Northamptonshire Wildlife Trust’s campaign Cut and Chew which “aims to ensure the long-term survival of Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire’s permanent grasslands, by promoting good management, restoration and appreciation of them.”   MMG has attended meetings with people from other parts of the country (most recently, Carmarthenshire and Devon) looking to set up meadows groups along similar lines to us.

Mark Avery’s report ends with 10 priorities for action, copied below.  Individuals can do something, but it requires a concerted effort from many different agencies to reverse the trend because, as Mark says, we need to do something urgently or the game is lost.

Mark’s Ten Priority Actions

1. Raise the public profile of the value of meadows so that they and their owners receive greater public support
2. Research the services and benefits of meadows so that the evidence is even more convincing: for example in flood prevention or nutritional value
3. Transfer more meadows into conservation stewardship – by communities, skilled farmers or conservation bodies – and where necessary into conservation ownership
4. Notify all high-quality meadows under existing legislation to protect them and enable public funding and use the planning system better to protect undesignated sites
5. Capture and record meadow history , including losses, to know more about what and why we have and could restore
6. Talk to farmers who own meadows and manage traditional stock to understand their needs and aspirations and to learn and share their knowledge
7. Promote the businesses of meadow-conserving farmers and buy the products they make
8. Increase direct payments to those farmers who protect meadows in the long term
9. Re-create new meadows on former sites the “right way” and where they link with existing meadows and share skills in this specialist undertaking
10. Establish an inventory of meadows as a means of focusing efforts to where quality is poor or to join up sites and to record our successes and failures.

Pentwyn Farm meadow (Keith Moseley)

Pentwyn Farm meadow (Keith Moseley)