Issue 50 – Spring 2014

A Natural History - bridging the gap between the historic and natural environment

What does a dormouse have in common with an ancient fort? The answer is probably more than you’d think, as CADW’s Director, MARILYN LEWIS, explains.

Hydro-electric schemes

Capturing energy from the flow of water and the force of gravity is potentially a benign, carbon-free technology, as the restoration of an early scheme at Plas Tan y Bwlch (see Natur Cymru 48) illustrated. But upland hydropower schemes carry environmental risks to stream ecosystems. Here KYLE YOUNG considers the mechanisms which are in place to balance benefits and costs, and the challenges which need to be met to ensure that this source of renewable energy is truly sustainable.

Weather extremes in Wales – a historical perspective

The storms that battered the Welsh coastline in early January have brought the debate about climate change and our vulnerability to weather extremes closer to home. SARAH DAVIES and CERYS JONES from Aberystwyth University explain how documentary sources can provide a valuable long term perspective on the nature of weather extremes and their impacts on communities in Wales.

Pearls in Peril

Freshwater pearl mussels are extraordinary creatures which fill an important ecological niche, improving conditions for other species by cleaning up water. They are also critically endangered. One project, based on the Afon Eden, is attempting to turn the situation around. ELAIN GWILYM takes up the story.

Monitoring Wales’ only Marine Nature Reserve

It has become routine to monitor environmental change on land but, given the urgent need to manage marine resources sustainably, there is surprisingly little detailed biological monitoring of the health of our seas. Skomer Marine Nature Reserve provides a rare example. The monitoring, which benefits from the help of enthusiastic volunteer divers, has yielded a complex picture of winners and losers, as well as confirming the continued welfare of an old friend, as BLAISE BULLIMORE describes.

Y Tywyddiadur – recording the weather and phenology in Wales (part 1)

Y Tywyddiadur is an exciting database of historical and contemporary data on the weather and phenology of Wales. It is part of the Llên Natur project which records and celebrates the relationship between people and the natural environment. In this article, the first of two, DUNCAN BROWN and TWM ELIAS describe the different types of information sources available and discuss how their research, which is based on data already gathered, is beginning to demonstrate the relevance of this information to wider studies of the environment and climate change.

This article is written in Welsh. You can read a translation here.

“The Professionals” – the rise of the modern ecologist

From the tweed-clad, eccentric but expert amateur naturalist of a generation ago, it has been a long journey to the modern ecologist. Ever increasing pressures on our countryside and townscapes, mitigated by legislation and regulation, have created the relatively new profession of ecologist to service this changing world, as FRED SLATER explains.

People and pine martens

Pine martens, with their low reproduction rate and large territories, are ill suited to coping with persecution and new pressures, such as fast traffic. Yet they are a valuable part of the ecosystem, helping red squirrels by predating on greys, and they stir considerable public interest and support. The population hangs by a thread in Wales, but a new project is investigating how to re-establish them here, as DAVID BAVIN reports.

In pine marten footsteps – gathering the evidence

There is still doubt as to whether viable populations of pine marten exist in Wales, but for every naysayer there’s a dedicated individual determined to get to the bottom of it. TOM FAIRFIELD reports on his attempts to record martens in the forests of Wales.

Woods and forests

News from Coed Cadw, the Woodland Trust in Wales

Bryophytes in the Woodland Trust’s ancient woodland
Rebecca Good and Kylie Jones Mattock

Nature at large

Habitat management at Pistyll Gwyn
Ivy Denham

Discoveries in science

Interesting insights from the National Museum Wales

New species of fossil crinoid discovered in south Wales
Cindy Howells

Plants at large

Wild daffodils
Simon Goodenough

Tribute to Morgan Parry

Duncan Brown and Jane Davidson

Islands round-up

Our regular look at the islands off the Welsh coast. This time:

News from Flat Holm, Ramsey, Skokholm and Skomer
Geoff Gibbs

Life lines

Following the work of Natural Resources Wales

After the storm – counting the wildlife cost

Catherine Duigan, Nicola Rimmington, Paul Brazier and Raymond Roberts