What is ‘special’ about Gwenfro Rhos y Gad SSSI?

Gwenfro Rhos y Gad has 4 special features.

As well as the features listed above, Gwenfro Rhos y Gad has other habitats/ features that contribute to the special interest. These include streams, hedgerows ponds, small rock outcrops and scrub. This mixture of habitats is important for much of the wildlife such as yellow sedge, petty whin, saw-wort, fly orchid, lesser butterfly orchid and lesser clubmoss and these too are key components of the special interest of the site. Unless specified below, management of this site should aim to look after these habitats and species as well as the listed features of interest.

What do we want Gwenfro Rhos y Gad to look like?

Approximately 95% of the site should support wetland vegetation of which at least 80% should be fen and the remainder swamp. All 3 nationally rare plant species (narrow-leaved marsh-orchid, fen pondweed and marsh dandelion) will continue to be present in the fen. The water-table should be at or near the ground surface throughout the SSSI throughout the year. Scrub should cover no more than 20 % of the site. Medicinal leech should be present.

Fly orchid Ophrys insectifera. © L T Colley/CCW

What management is needed on Gwenfro Rhos y Gad SSSI and why?
Although Gwenfro Rhos y Gad is an excellent place for wildlife it will only remain so if the necessary management continues. CCW’s aim is to work with you to ensure that this management is carried out.

What does this mean in practice?
There are many factors that could damage the special features at Gwenfro Rhos y Gad if they are not properly managed. These are the ones we regard as most important:

Grazing is essential to prevent the growth of rank grasses and invasion by scrub. In winter parts of this site can be too wet to graze, but in summer cattle and/or ponies should have access to all parts of the fen. Should the ground surface become badly poached, grazing pressure should be reduced. No supplementary feed should be placed within the SSSI. Cattle or ponies provide feeding opportunities to leeches, but are not significantly harmed by them.

Water quantity:
Wetland is dependant on an adequate supply of water. Any works within the catchment, which could affect supply should be subject to scrutiny to determine their impact. The water levels here are unusually low for a fen and some parts of the site would benefit from retention of more water, possibly through blocking of selected surface drains and ditches. Streams and ditches within and downstream of the site should not be overdeepened since this could lead to a lowering of the water level within the site

Water quality:
Increases in plant nutrients can lead to the proliferation of common species such as floating sweet-grass and Yorkshire fog and the loss of typical wetland plants such as black bog-rush. Care must be taken in spreading agricultural fertilisers (including slurry and abattoir and creamery waste) elsewhere in the catchment to ensure no run-off into ditches and drains which flow into the fen. No application or storage of fertiliser, including farmyard manure, is permissible within the site.

Our knowledge and understanding of wildlife is continually improving. It is possible that new issues may arise in the future, whilst other issues may disappear. This statement is written with the best information we have now, but may have to change in the future as our understanding improves, in particular, of the possible/probable impact of climate change. Any information you can provide on the wildlife of your site, its management and its conservation would be much appreciated.

If you would like to discuss any aspect of your SSSI, or have any concerns about your SSSI, please contact your local CCW office.

Your local office is:
Countryside Council for Wales
North Wales Region
Llys y Bont
Ffordd y Parc
Parc Menai


LL57 4BN

Telephone: 01248 672500
01248 679259