Heavy metal loving plants dig new habitats

Work to re-create new habitat to help tackle the decline in rare metal loving species has been successfully completed by Natural Resources Wales Conwy Environment team.

The work took place on two units within the Gwydyr Forest Special Area of Conservation in the heart of the Snowdonia National Park, which is home to nationally important populations of metallophytes such as Lead Moss (Ditrichum plumbicola)  and Alpine Pennycress (Noccaea caerulescens).

Caroline Bateson, Natura 2000 officer for NRW, said:

“Lead Moss and Alpine Pennycress are metallophytes which need high levels of heavy metals in the soil to exist.
“These species are in decline due to scrub encroachment in all but the most toxic areas. To tackle this, we have hand dug experimental scrapes to re-create suitable habitat.
“Digging scrapes is a proven method of kick-starting the recovery of these rarities and has occurred on similar old mining sites in Cornwall.”

Both of these areas in Gwydyr, Hafna mine and Cyffty mine, have already had invasive conifers and gorse removed by work funded by Biodiversity Funds for Ecosystem Resilience (BERF).

Caroline added:

“Addressing the management of SAC units is a long-term project and we are working closely with NRW’s Land Management Team to try and tackle three sites a year. It will be fascinating to observe what species will emerge on these scrapes.”