The Blorenge

The Blorenge
A Heather Moorland ecosystem within the
Brecon Beacons National Park
The summit of the Blorenge (eastern area of Brecon Beacons National
Park is just over 550 m. The moorland here has been designated a SSSI
(Site of Special Scientific Interest) mainly for its importance as a
heather/red grouse moor.
Blorenge hill is
about 3kms
south west of
The Blorenge hill towers over Abergavenny down in
the Usk Valley
Heather moorland is a very important habitat and the Red Grouse
that breed there are the most southerly natural population in
Britain today. There is concern for both the habitat condition and
the struggling Grouse population on the moors, there is work
being undertaken to address these problems.
happens if
the red
grouse dies
out in this
The other wildlife of the Blorenge includes Dragonflies, newts,
adders, slow worms and lizards as well as fox and badger. Bird life
includes Whinchat, Stonechat, Wheatear and Red Kite and
Peregrine Falcon. The dwarf - heath shrubs that grow along side
the heather include Crowberry, Bilberry. Wet areas are of interest
for Sundews, Bog Asphodel, and Heath spotted orchids.
Why no trees?
trees be
Natural changes – invasion by bracken, which shades out
Natural changes – heather beetle infestation
When in large numbers they can cause whole heather plants to lose
their leaves, turn reddish brown and to die.
Human Changes:
Fly tipping and litter is an
ever growing problem
mainly along roadside
verges and the car parks.
Vandalism, illegal fire
lighting, burnt out
vehicles and off road
nuisances are all
problems of a modern
age, especially at spots
that are easily accessible.
Human Changes: Impact of Recreational Activities
Human Changes:
Impact of Recreational
Activities – some of which are
Human Changes: Footpath erosion
Human Changes: Footpath erosion – see vegetation change
along paths
Human Changes - Climate Change - If the summers are longer, hotter
and drier, the blanket bogs across the uplands will begin to dry.
There will likely be more grass and heath fires, changing the patterns
of vegetation across the uplands and encouraging more bracken. As
river levels drop some species may disappear or fish such as salmon
and trout may find difficulty spawning.
In the Brecon
National Park
the blanket
bogs of the
upland areas
act as carbon
Human Changes: Climate Change - Mild winters may mean some
seeds no longer germinate as they require frost . Migratory birds
may stay longer putting more pressure on what food is available.
Mild temperatures lead to more mammals, birds and insects
surviving the winter, meaning a sharp increase in their populations.
These increased populations can cause problems as they compete
with other species and themselves for food and nest sites.
Cuckoo migratory
Climate change - Heavy rains, particularly after summer droughts
could cause flooding and erosion of soils. The extra sediment
washed into rivers changes the water chemistry affecting every
freshwater plant and animal.
River Usk
red with
Old Red
Human Changes: increased burning
For centuries moorland
has been burned to
manage the vegetation
and to stimulate new
growth. Another benefit
of this practice is that it
can also help to control
tick numbers. However,
it must be very carefully
Old woody heather burnt to speed nutrient cycling. GOOD
Many fires started deliberately as arson. BAD
Human Changes:
Farmers may keep too
many sheep – which could
damage the heather.
Some farmers might be
tempted to encourage
more grass to grow.
Consequences for local people
Hillfarming occurs on marginal land. Farmers are ‘custodians’ of
the land.
Consequences for local people
The Red
Grouse has
almost to
extinction in
areas that
Consequences for local people
Acres covered: 2,900
Potential number of shooting days: 7
Equivalent number of keepers: 1
Employment and ancillary costs: £50,100
Potential revenue ploughed back into land management: £130,200
Visitor expenditure on accommodation and catering: £18,270
n.b. The heather in Wales has suffered severe overgrazing since
the Second World War and the Red Grouse has declined almost to
extinction in areas that were previously thriving grouse moors.
Work is underway to address the grazing regime with the long
term aim of bringing back the moorland mosaic and the bird life
that it should support.
Consequences for people further afield
Loss of wildscape to visit
Continuing global warming
Effect on grouse numbers In England and Wales there are
about 149 estates where grouse shooting occurs, covering an
estimated area of 1,344 square miles with an average estate
size of 8.9 square miles, (5,700 acres). On average, 200,000
grouse are shot in England and Wales in a shooting season
from 12th August – 10th December. Moorland Association
members pay £52.5 million a year to manage their moors.
Impacts on Other Environments –
Carbon released = global warming
20% of the world’s carbon on land is stored in bogs.
Bogs have undergone significant reduction and damage
Soil erosion – clog rivers - flooding
How can the moorland be both Exploited and Conserved?
The Brecon Beacons National Park is not a wilderness. It is living
landscape that relies on industries such as tourism and farming in
order to survive.
A diverse, vibrant and economically active community is
essential. The National Park Authority works in close partnership
with public and private bodies to help industries such as farming
and tourism develop in a sustainable way that protects and
enhances the special qualities for which the National Park is
On the Blorenge - Partnership working is again highlighted here,
with keen co-operation from the BBNP local authorities, Fire and
Police Force, landowners and an ever watchful public all
Management plan – recreation groups
Biodiversity management
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