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The Blorenge A Heather Moorland ecosystem within the Brecon Beacons National Park.

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Presentation on theme: "The Blorenge A Heather Moorland ecosystem within the Brecon Beacons National Park."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Blorenge A Heather Moorland ecosystem within the Brecon Beacons National Park

2 LOCATION: The summit of the Blorenge (eastern area of Brecon Beacons National Park is just over 550 m. The moorland here has been designated a SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) mainly for its importance as a heather/red grouse moor. Blorenge hill is about 3kms south west of Abergavenny.

3 The Blorenge hill towers over Abergavenny down in the Usk Valley

4 Heather moorland is a very important habitat and the Red Grouse that breed there are the most southerly natural population in Britain today. There is concern for both the habitat condition and the struggling Grouse population on the moors, there is work being undertaken to address these problems. What happens if the red grouse dies out in this ecosystem?

5 The other wildlife of the Blorenge includes Dragonflies, newts, adders, slow worms and lizards as well as fox and badger. Bird life includes Whinchat, Stonechat, Wheatear and Red Kite and Peregrine Falcon. The dwarf - heath shrubs that grow along side the heather include Crowberry, Bilberry. Wet areas are of interest for Sundews, Bog Asphodel, and Heath spotted orchids. Why no trees? Could/Should trees be introduced?

6 Natural changes – invasion by bracken, which shades out heather.

7 Natural changes – heather beetle infestation When in large numbers they can cause whole heather plants to lose their leaves, turn reddish brown and to die.

8 Human Changes: Fly tipping and litter is an ever growing problem mainly along roadside verges and the car parks. Vandalism, illegal fire lighting, burnt out vehicles and off road nuisances are all problems of a modern age, especially at spots that are easily accessible.

9 Human Changes: Impact of Recreational Activities

10 Human Changes: Impact of Recreational Activities – some of which are banned!

11 Human Changes: Footpath erosion

12 Human Changes: Footpath erosion – see vegetation change along paths

13 Human Changes - Climate Change - If the summers are longer, hotter and drier, the blanket bogs across the uplands will begin to dry. There will likely be more grass and heath fires, changing the patterns of vegetation across the uplands and encouraging more bracken. As river levels drop some species may disappear or fish such as salmon and trout may find difficulty spawning. In the Brecon Beacons National Park the blanket bogs of the upland areas act as carbon sinks

14 Human Changes: Climate Change - Mild winters may mean some seeds no longer germinate as they require frost. Migratory birds may stay longer putting more pressure on what food is available. Mild temperatures lead to more mammals, birds and insects surviving the winter, meaning a sharp increase in their populations. These increased populations can cause problems as they compete with other species and themselves for food and nest sites. Cuckoo - migratory

15 Climate change - Heavy rains, particularly after summer droughts could cause flooding and erosion of soils. The extra sediment washed into rivers changes the water chemistry affecting every freshwater plant and animal. River Usk stained red with Old Red Sandstone silt

16 For centuries moorland has been burned to manage the vegetation and to stimulate new growth. Another benefit of this practice is that it can also help to control tick numbers. However, it must be very carefully managed. Human Changes: increased burning Old woody heather burnt to speed nutrient cycling. GOOD Many fires started deliberately as arson. BAD

17 Human Changes: Overgrazing Farmers may keep too many sheep – which could damage the heather. Some farmers might be tempted to encourage more grass to grow.

18 Consequences for local people Hillfarming occurs on marginal land. Farmers are custodians of the land.

19 Consequences for local people The Red Grouse has declined almost to extinction in areas that were previously thriving grouse moors.

20 Consequences for local people Wales Acres covered: 2,900 Potential number of shooting days: 7 Equivalent number of keepers: 1 Employment and ancillary costs: £50,100 Potential revenue ploughed back into land management: £130,200 Visitor expenditure on accommodation and catering: £18,270 n.b. The heather in Wales has suffered severe overgrazing since the Second World War and the Red Grouse has declined almost to extinction in areas that were previously thriving grouse moors. Work is underway to address the grazing regime with the long term aim of bringing back the moorland mosaic and the bird life that it should support.

21 Consequences for people further afield Loss of wildscape to visit Continuing global warming Effect on grouse numbers In England and Wales there are about 149 estates where grouse shooting occurs, covering an estimated area of 1,344 square miles with an average estate size of 8.9 square miles, (5,700 acres). On average, 200,000 grouse are shot in England and Wales in a shooting season from 12th August – 10th December. Moorland Association members pay £52.5 million a year to manage their moors.

22 Impacts on Other Environments – Carbon released = global warming 20% of the worlds carbon on land is stored in bogs. Bogs have undergone significant reduction and damage Soil erosion – clog rivers - flooding

23 How can the moorland be both Exploited and Conserved? On the Blorenge - Partnership working is again highlighted here, with keen co-operation from the BBNP local authorities, Fire and Police Force, landowners and an ever watchful public all contributing. Management plan – recreation groups Biodiversity management The Brecon Beacons National Park is not a wilderness. It is living landscape that relies on industries such as tourism and farming in order to survive. A diverse, vibrant and economically active community is essential. The National Park Authority works in close partnership with public and private bodies to help industries such as farming and tourism develop in a sustainable way that protects and enhances the special qualities for which the National Park is designated.

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