Nature Fund initiative protects historic lakes from farmland silt run-off

National Trust - 2015-08-29

A Pembrokeshire lake system celebrated for its beauty and wildlife populations is being protected from farmland soil and nutrient run-off thanks to an initiative aimed at halting the decline of wildlife and habitats.

A collaboration of local environmental organisations, led by The National Trust, secured funding from the Welsh Government’s Nature Fund to work with farmers to improvement habitats in the Bosherston Lily Pools catchment.

It has since implemented a range of projects, including dirty water management initiatives at two neighbouring farms.

As part of the partnership, Natural Resources Wales worked with dairy farmer, Martin Mathias, and livestock producer, Richard Prout, to facilitate simple, cost effective alterations to their farmyards to prevent silt entering the lakes.

At Bangeston Farm, a catchment pit has been created next to the milking parlour to capture rainwater that falls onto the roof of the building. “During heavy rain it stops that surge of water that erodes the silt and soil and has in the past washed debris into the stream,’’ Mr Mathias explained.

A second catchment pit collects water run-off from cow tracks at the farm. “We are already seeing an algae forming at that pit so it is clear that the system is stopping nutrients from being washed into the stream,’’ said Mr Mathias.

A similar approach has been taken at Rowston Farm. A stream has also been fenced off to prevent cattle poaching the banks and soil entering the watercourse.

The Welsh Government created the Nature Fund after a 2013 State of Nature report highlighted dramatic declines in a range of habitats and species across Wales.

The National Trust, together with other organisations on the Castlemartin Peninsula, secured £144,000.

In addition to the dirty water management projects at the two farms, the conservation body has used some its share of this funding to create silt traps on streams that feed into the lakes.

A precision farming initiative has also been undertaken. GPS technology was used to accurately map soil nutrient variation at Gupton Farm, Freshwater West, allowing for variable fertiliser inputs. This will result in reduced inputs of phosphorous and potash on the land.

Jonathan Hughes, General Manager for the National Trust in Pembrokeshire, said the Nature Fund had allowed the National Trust to work in partnership with local farmers to secure the long-term future of natural resources.

“We are very grateful for the support from the Nature Fund. The work we have undertaken through this fund will have built natural resilience into the system, and will help with the long-term management of the lakes’’ said Mr Hughes.

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Photos for this release:

Farmers Martin Mathias and Richard Prout are pictured with Jonathan Hughes of the National Trust at the silt traps at Castle Dock Woods, Stackpole.