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Cwm Cadlan Nature Reserve

Heavy machinery may not be what you expect to see at a wildlife-rich nature reserve. But, if you visit Cwm Cadlan National Nature Reserve near Hirwaun in the Brecon Beacons over the coming weeks, you’ll see ongoing work using a 13-ton excavator!

Drains, created many years ago to dry out the land, are having a detrimental effect on the site’s rare wildlife habitats – it’s one of the best alkaline fens (wet meadow habitat) in the UK, and home to a wealth of rare plants and creatures of all kind.

According to Reserve Manager, Jon Wohlgemuth: “This work is essential and will help the site withstand the effects of the long dry spells that we have experienced in recent years, and which we can expect more of in future, due to global warming.”

In a good condition, fenland habitats can store up carbon that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere so there are benefits to the wider society of caring for our wildlife habitats.

Sites like this are in constant need of maintenance to preserve their unique habitats. “I’m looking forward to seeing the site’s wet meadows benefiting from filling in the ditches. Their variety of species includes a rich mix of orchids, sedges, herbs and mosses,” added Jon.

Situated just north of Hirwaun in the Brecon Beacons, the site is sandwiched between the Cefn Cadlan ridge to the north, whilst to the south lies Mynydd-y-glog. The whole area is dotted with cairns and ancient settlements. A footpath crosses part of the site, giving walkers a great view of the varied habitat and a chance to take in the atmosphere of this special place.

Cwm Cadlan has been managed as a National Nature Reserve by the Countryside Council for Wales since 2003. It is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and Special Area of Conservation due to the rarity of alkaline fens throughout Europe.