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Ffridd - a habitat on the edge

Last modified: 04 November 2014

Scarlet waxcap fungus

Image: Dave Lamacraft

A new report launched today highlights the importance of ffridd - also known as coedcae in south Wales – within the Welsh countryside, and hopes to raise awareness of its value for wildlife, people and farming.

This joint publication between RSPB Cymru and Natural Resources Wales – which is funded by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) - is the first time such a report has been produced where this habitat is recognised for its ecological, cultural and land-use benefits.

Ffridd is an important home to wildlife like the Welsh clearwing moth, birds such as yellowhammer and chough, rare plants such as the lesser butterfly orchid, and important groups of grassland fungi and lichens. The majority of this wildlife are protected species, and rely heavily on the mosaic of scattered trees, gorse and brackenthat is characteristic of ffridd for food, shelter and breeding.

Lying beteen the managed lowlands and uplands in Wales, Ffridd is an important habitat and is increadibly diverse. However, protecting it is difficult due to it occurring in small patches in scattered places, with very little of it found in our protected site network.

Amy Vanstone , RSPB Cymru Conservation Officer said: “We hope by producing this report that the protection, enhancement and restoration of ffridd habitat will take a front seat on the Welsh Government’s agenda, as a habitat that must be protected for future generations.”

She adds: “Ffridd acts as an important corridor between the lowlands and uplands, and allows wildlife like water voles to move in response to climate change and land management.”

Ffridd is a threatened habitat and on the edge of disappearing altogether from the Welsh countryside. Pressures like fragmentation, agricultural pressures and lack of data present a serious threat.

But there is a solution as Sian Whitehead, Natural Resources Wales Terrestrial & Freshwater Ornithologist explains: “It’s important that we protect this dynamic, diverse habitat that provides important wildlife corridors for birds, plants and small mammals.

“Working with landowners is key to the success of the ffridd habitat. In some cases, simple practical solutions, like controlled burning or managed livestock grazing, can help protect it.

She adds: “This report will be able to provide land owners and managers of ffridd with an appreciation of how vital it is as a resource, where they can get information on the value that it can offer as a habitat to be managed for livestock and as a home for wildlife."

Clare Burrows is Farmland Ecologist for Natural Resources Wales, she says: “Ffridd is a distinctive yet often overlooked element of the Welsh landscape. We hope this report will be a step in the right direction and help us to raise awareness of the contribution this vital habitat makes to a healthy countryside.”

This report will help land owners, managers and decision makers in the Welsh Government to improve their knowledge of this important habitat in Wales. It is important to recognise that appropriate management is vital in conserving ffridd, and it is essential that this unique habitat is managed sustainably now and safeguarded for future generations.

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Ffridd - a habitat on the edge (806Kb)
Distinctive, diverse and under threat; the upland fringe is a habitat of veiled depth and character. It's a vital resource for Welsh wildlife, and a unique challenge for land managers.
Ffridd - cynefin ar y cyrion (813Kb)
Hynod, amrywiol ac o dan fygythiad; mae'r tir ar gyrion yr ucheldir yn gynefin sy'n llawn cymeriad a chyfoeth cudd. Mae'n adnodd hollbwysig ar gyfer bywyd gwyllt Cymru ac mae'n cynnig her unigryw i reolwyr tir.

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