The West Glamorgan Stepping Stones project raised awareness of brownfield sites, gathered important survey data for invertebrates, and working with partners helped to restore 48 hectares of brownfield habitat. The project sites included Kilvey Hill and Pluck Lake (owned by Swansea Council), Bryn Tip and Cymmer Tip (owned by Neath Port Talbot Council), and TATA Steel. We have worked closely with project partners Swansea Council, Neath Port Talbot Council and Tata Steel to raise awareness of the importance of brownfield habitats. In year 1 of the project each site was surveyed by a local entomologist and survey data gathered was used to inform habitat management for species such as the Brown-banded carder bee (Bombus humilis), Shrill carder bee (Bombus sylvarum), Dingy skipper (Erynnis tages), and the wide variety of wildlife that find refuge on brownfield sites. Monitoring data was also collected in year 3.
A range of habitat management recommendations were made for each site and during the 3-year project we worked with volunteers, our local authority partners, Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust (ARC Trust) and local contractors to carry out:
- scrub thinning
- removal of invasive, non-native species such as cotoneaster
- creation of habitat piles and reptile refugia
- creation of wildflower meadows, bee banks and bare ground scrapes
These sites are closely linked to West Glamorgan’s industrial heritage of copper, tin and coal mining. Swansea was once known as ‘Copperopolis – the copper capital of the world’.
The extent and scale of the industrialisation that took place in this region at a time when there were no environmental controls in place, created a legacy of contaminated land. However, it is these types of sites that now form some of the best wildlife habitats in the local area.