The North & Mid Wales Trunk Road Agent (NMWTRA) are in the process of handing over the management of two young woodlands to the Talgarth Community Woodland group with the support of Llais y Goedwig the community woodland network for Wales. They’ll be working together to improve biodiversity and the community’s access to local woodlands.
The woodland plots lie on the Old Road heading out of Talgarth which is a popular dog walking and countryside route. They were created when the A479 Talgarth relief road and Bronllys bypass were completed in 2007. Thanks to the collaboration, this site has a new lease of life as a community education resource.
The Talgarth Community Woodland group undertakes woodland management to help improve local woodlands for wildlife while generating a sustainable supply of wood products to help reduce carbon emissions. They provide training opportunities for their members.
The inaugural event at the Old Road site included hedge laying along the roadside to create a much-improved habitat for dormice and great crested newts as well as the warm and sunlit conditions favoured by many native species such as the speckled wood butterfly (pictured right).
This species likes warm and sunny conditions in open spaces between trees. This work will create a mix of open stretches and retained areas of dense growth, creating a much more varied habitat along the old road. Activities such as this help to deliver the goals identified in the Welsh Government’s Well-being of Future Generations Wales) Act 2015 by increasing community use of local green spaces and providing training opportunities within sustainable woodland management.
As well as improving biodiversity, the Talgarth Relief Road and Bronllys Bypass scheme also provides an alternative route to HGVs that were travelling through the historic market town and has improved journey times from Abergavenny to Builth. The road project was awarded a CEEQUAL Excellent score of 82.9%- an evidence-based sustainability assessment awards scheme for civil engineering projects.
Since its creation, the road project included mitigation for a wide range of protected species, like lesser horseshoe bats, badgers, otters and dormice. For example, an oversized culvert was built to allow lesser horseshoe bats to safely cross the road. Pendre Culvert also has contains a seasonal watercourse, mammal ledges for badger and otter and a high-level dormouse ledge to link habitat on each side of the new road.
During construction, NMWTRA sourced grass seed from local species-rich meadows to ensure that local native species of flora would thrive. This is now managed as wildflower grasslands. For example, the cut arisings are removed after cutting to ensure site fertility remains low which provides optimal conditions for wildflowers.
Monitoring has shown that lesser horseshoe bats are using the underpass and that badgers and otters are also present. Watercourses nearby have possibly shown some of the strongest population of fresh-water crayfish in the Brecon Beacons National Park.
This is part of the Welsh Government’s commitment to increase biodiversity along the Welsh Strategic Road Network as outlined in the Green Corridors Initiative. As the partnership between the local woodland community group, Welsh Government and NMWTRA develop case studies will be created to measure the positive impacts of schemes like this one.
Discover when and where roadside habitats are being improved here and how this is part of the Welsh Government’s strategy to increase biodiversity on the network by clicking the links on the right.