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Tree felling project helps rare Powys flower

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James McLaren James McLaren | 10:27 UK time, Friday, 14 January 2011

Efforts to safeguard the population of a very rare winter flower, the Radnor Lily, have been stepped up by the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW).

Radnor lily

Radnor lily. Photo courtesy of CCW.

The flower's sole UK habitat is the Stanner Rocks near New Radnor, which are 700 million years old. The rocks are managed by CCW and is a distinctive rounded hill clothed in part by woodland of native trees and pockets of important grassland.

Andrew Ferguson, CCW's senior reserve manager of Stanner Rocks, said: "The Radnor Lily has been found, with its very occasional small yellow blooms, along with several other rare species including mosses. They flourish on the relatively arid rocky outcrops and thin soils that create a marginally suitable environment for a selection of wild plants that more typically would grow in northern Mediterranean regions.

"Sites like Stanner Rocks deserve special treatment and that's just what the management plan devised by Forestry Commission Wales and the CCW has been delivering. We identified the need to fell blocks of non-native trees and to manage the undergrowth in order to encourage these species to flourish. So a lot of shade was removed from the hill top, thus providing new areas for some rarities to spread."

The felling project has also had the benefit of assisting in providing an improved habitat for the Stanner Rocks' other rare species, the Hazel Dormouse and the Southern Wood Ant.

"The dormouse's woodland habitat, particularly food and shelter, is provided by plants such as hazel, bramble and honeysuckle that flourish here where there is sufficient light," said Ferguson. "The felling of some heavily-shading trees has allowed light to reach towards the woodland floor, such that hazel nuts and blackberries can ripen for food."

"Not only is [the project] good news for many of the special wildlife features of this site, it also provides an outstanding viewpoint for the public from the top of the hill. Walkers can freely access the top via public footpaths that lead from the A44 trunk road without entering very sensitive and potentially hazardous parts of the National Nature Reserve [NNR]."

The NNR beyond the level parts of the quarry floor and below the top of the hill is not open to the public. Access within the NNR should be arranged in advance through the Countryside Council for Wales enquiries desk on 0845 1306229.


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