Preserving the Gower’s heritage
Common land is a crucial part of Welsh heritage. The vast areas of upland and lowland common on the Gower Peninsula are all of natural and cultural significance and the area as a whole is designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The commons are a legacy to the people of Wales from the commoners who have exercised their legal rights to graze livestock for centuries.
Conserving the Gower Commons’ habitats
Common land offers unique opportunities for wildlife, agriculture and recreation. Each of the 24 individual Gower Commons has a distinct natural identity, with diverse landscapes and a huge variety of habitats, including heathland, mire, woodlands, dunes, coast and 2784 hectares of Ramsar protected wetlands.
Many are covered by conservation orders. The principal commons are recognised for their flora and fauna and are protected by European legislation as Special Areas of Conservation (SAC). 1077 hectares of the commons are furthered designated as Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINCs).
Essential traditional commons management
Traditional management practices have created the huge variety of habitats found on the Gower Peninsula. Management methods have changed little over the centuries and include:
Grazing is the primary way that vegetation is kept cropped.
Burning has been a traditional management method of grass and heathland on commons for centuries. Fire burns and removes the dead parts of the plant and rejuvenates vegetation for the following season.
Machinery is required to control vegetation that is either inedible or less favoured by grazing livestock, such as bracken and gorse.