Conservation Work Completed for Endangered Damselfly
Important work has been carried out to restore and create new habitat for the endangered Southern Damselfly. The Preseli Hills are the most important site in Wales for the Southern Damselfly. The area holds the second largest population in the UK and possibly Europe. The site is designated as a “Special Area of Conservation” (SAC) in part because of the Southern Damselfly population.
The habitat on which the damselfly relies is in serious decline within the SAC mainly due to the reduction of traditional grazing by cattle or ponies. Until such time as a grazing regime capable of maintaining these habitats can be established, other less sustainable solutions have to be implemented to ensure the Southern Damselfly does not become extinct on the Preseli Hills. Interventions using machinery to physically alter the streams and flushes are required to turn these narrow, deepcut / underground streams into wide, shallow and open watercourses.
Works in early 2015 were undertaken to restore targeted sections of streams where suitable habitats are known to have been lost and to create new areas of habitat. This work was carried out as a partnership between the British Dragonfly Society (BDS), Natural Resources Wales (NRW), Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority (PCNPA) and Pembrokeshire Biodiversity Partnership. This has included opening up streams, creating pools & rejuvenating flushes to create more open water by drawing back encroaching peat and vegetation from the stream lines. In excess of 1000m of linear habitat was created at two sites and a shallow pool and flush created at another site.
Mechanical interventions are not ideal but are essential in the short term to maintain the specific habitat conditions required by this rare insect. Monitoring of the works is important and at one of the project sites the works needed to be re-visited following heavy rain. Adjustments and changes were made following this to reduce flows and to improve access. This highlighted the difficulties in having to rely on un-natural mechanisms to maintain site conditions. Ideally in the future, the Southern Damselflies habitat will be maintained through correct grazing of the sites, but in the short-term, mechanical intervention is needed to prevent extinction of this species.
In the future, we will continue to work fully and closely with all parties to ensure that the Southern Damselfly and the special habitats it requires are maintained on the hills and that, at the same time, everyone’s interests are upheld.
Photo by Stephen and Anne Coker