GWCT Wales is involved in several Welsh Government-funded Sustainable Management Scheme (SMS) projects across the country. The principle of SMS is to support collaborative landscape-scale projects delivering nature-based solutions to improve the resilience of our natural resources and ecosystems in a way that also delivers benefits to farm businesses and the health and well-being of rural communities. GWCT Wales SMS partnerships include:
Bro Cors Caron SMS, Ceredigion
The project area borders the north-east end of the 1,976-acre Cors Caron National Nature Reserve, which is part of the largest lowland raised bog in Britain. Adopting the GWCT’s Farmer Cluster approach, conservation measures have been implemented across eight farms in order to reverse local biodiversity declines and improve the water quality and soil health while maintaining productive and profitable farming enterprises.
Camlad Valley SMS, Powys
Another Farmer Cluster partnership of 18 farms aimed at improving soil health, water quality, and biodiversity, combined with community wellbeing. The area is home to one of the last remaining populations of curlew breeding in lowland Wales and the project is linked to Curlew Country, the wader conservation initiative, which hopes to reverse declines through the GWCT three-legged stool principle of habitat creation, food availability, and predation management.
‘Cynnal Coetir’ Elwy Valley SMS, North East Wales
Covering an area of 23,500 hectares in North East Wales, centred around the Elwy river catchment and working with multiple landowners, the project centres around four themes, which all affect woodland health and resilience:
- Deer research into the locally abundant fallow deer population – two PhD students from Bangor University are working on this element. We are also conducting activity and impact assessments across the area along with drone surveys.
- Grey squirrel impacts and control – developing bark stripping survey methods and a local abundance tool using feed hoppers as an indicator.
- Himalayan balsam survey of river catchment – survey of entire river catchment utilising drone photography and AI recognition. Working with GEOM project Aberystwyth University to develop AI recognition software.
- Education – We have partnered with a local Woodland Skills Centre, where they are running sessions to re-connect children with woodland and wildlife. We are also going out to schools to run sessions.
Other partners include Liverpool John Moores University working on AI recognition of trail camera footage, North Wales Rivers Trust regarding invasives, and APHA working on their grey squirrel immuno-contraceptive.
The Welsh Farmland Bird Initiative, Gwynedd and Denbighshire
A GWCT Wales-led three-year European Innovation Partnership (EIP) Wales project, joint funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government. Its goal is to demonstrate how farmland bird numbers can be boosted on Welsh livestock farms through a combination of wild bird seed cover crops and supplementary winter feeding. The two demonstration sites are a traditional Welsh hill farm and a lowland dairy farm to show the measures can be successfully applied in both upland and lowland areas.
Winter Feeding Project, Ceredigion
This collaborative project with the Ceredigion Local Nature Partnership encouraged farmers to distribute supplementary feed for songbirds in winter. 25 farms across the county were given a Perdix Farmland Feeder and 250kg of bird seed mix donated by Kings Crops, enough to last the duration of the hungry gap. The objective was to raise awareness of the value of this measure particularly in livestock farming regions and to engage farmers with the bird life on their farms.