Saturday 19 January 2013

Frewshwater West update

Gupton Farm
Most of the Cawdor Estate in South Pembrokeshire is in the ownership of the National Trust, one property Gupton Farm and parts of Castlemartin Corse are to be taken inhand and managed by the Trust.
Freshwater West, is undeveloped and sought for wildness and solitude. The surfers and recent films made there has led to intense visitor pressure.
The beach and the sand dunes are of scientific interest one of the few relatively intact calcareous water meadows.
The area was improved by drainage by the Cawdors, the water levels managed for agriculture.
For most of my life with the outfall to the beach (recently removed)the area has contained seasonal dune slacks and winter flooding meadows with a calcareous alkaline soil.
With dune stabilisation by the National Park the supply of wind blown ground up shell fragments, has not replenished the “machair”.The high rainfall leaches the lime from the sand which becomes acid the water draining into the streams is alkaline, When there are wind blown shells the top two or three centimeters are alkaline, which when combined with close grazing produces a herb rich grassland home to a mutitude of flowering plants.
The dune slacks and the watercourses are flooded with alkaline mineral rich clear water, a haven for fish invertebrates insects with a profusion of water plants.
The land was grazed when dry in spring,in summer a hay crop was taken for winter feed after the stock was taken off in the winter the land flooded, the silt fertilised the meadows. The stock were not allowed to poach the land.
Now high stock rate with store cattle in the winter, maize cultivation in summer can produce high nitrogen run off and poaching to bare soil.
The Corse to the east of the road now fenced off and now planted with permanent ley in my lifetime was closely grazed herb rich sward, it must be returned to its natural climax vegetation.
Reading a Consultants Report from 2007 the area has been changed by drainage not being maintained and by run off from upstream ploughing filling the drains with silt.
It is now an offence under the European Waters Directive to allow further degradation of historical waterways used by migratory fish for spawning purposes
The steam has an annual run of elvers in and mature eels out to sea. Lampreys are present (or were). The future pressures on the land are critical, the desire by Surfers to set up an International Surfing Center, to quote their words”surfers will not walk far, they need car parks at the top of the beach cafes and camping.”
Pembrokeshire County Council recognises Global Warming and predicts the destruction of the present road by rising sea levels, one proposed solution is to close the road from the road to Angle to Castlemartin and restrict vehicle access to householder access,.
The farm has to produce an economic return to pay for Conservation, and to support local people.
The dune slacks and the seasonal flooding historically have been a haven for waterfowl of international importance.
At present there is no public access, any public access with free running dogs will degrade this as it has destroyed the sanctuary value of other sites in Pembrokeshire.
These are some of the competing priorities, the debate about future use is too important to be left to Pembrokeshire Politics, this area is of international importance.

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