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Nature Reserves in Gower

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Nature Reserves in Gower

Gower has a large number of designated areas which have been officially recognised and protected for various natural attributes or the presence of rare flora or fauna. In a nutshell, the entire peninsular is designated an Area of Outstanding Natural beauty; The Burry estuary on the north of the peninsular is a 6500 hectre Ramsar site; there are 5 Special Areas of Conservation; 1 Marine Special Areas of Conservation; 1 Special Protection Area; 33 Sites of Special Scientific Interest; 4 National Nature Reserves; 6 Local Nature Reserves; 1 Country Park; 19 Managed Reserves. In addition, the entire coast line  is a designated a heritage coast.

Below is a map providing the locations of the various designated areas. The markers lie on the national and local nature reserves or generally the sites which are less sensitive to high visitor numbers. Please remember that many of the SSSI’s cannot be accessed by the general public and many sites are very sensitive and unless you have a specific interest may be better left alone.

Key to Designations

AONB – An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is a precious landscape whose distinctive character and natural beauty are so outstanding that it is in the nation’s interest to safeguard them. Gower was the first area to receive such a nomination way back in 1956, chosen for its classic coastline and outstanding natural environment. Today there are 46 AONB’s throughout the UK.

SSSI – Site of Special Scientific Interest, are sites which have been designated for their biological or geological interest by virtue of their flora or fauns or geological / geomorphological features. Gower has 33 SSSI’s.

SAC – Special Areas of Conservation, of which there are five on the peninsula. They are strictly protected sites designated under the EC Habitats Directive, which aims to establish a European network of important high-quality conservation sites which will aid in the conservation of identified habitats and species.

SPA – Special Protection Areas are strictly protected sites under the EEC birds directive. They are classified for rare and vulnerable birds and for regularly occurring migratory species. There is one SPA on the peninsula, the Burry inlet.

NNR – National Nature Reserves - there are three on the peninsula.

Ramsar Site – Ramsar sites are designated under the International Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitats. The is one Ramsar site in the Gower area, the Burry Estuary.

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A Wildlife Trust reserve consisting of ancient woodland clinging to a fossilised sea cliff.

A Wildlife Trust reserve consisting of wet woodland, grassland and scrub.

A Wildlife Trust reserve. Excellent examples of ancient broadleaved woodland interspersed with plantation, calcareous pasture and quarry. The reserve falls in two parts linked by a public footpath. Access is good - you can either park at the honesty box car park in Cwm Ivy or next to the Brittania pub in Llanmadoc and walk up the road to the footpath which begins on your right.

A Wildlife Trust reserve. A beautiful damp woodland centred on a shallow lake with bird watching hide. Characterised by low oak/birch/willow woodland in the south and east, to drier ash, sweet chestnut, sycamore, and beech woodland in the north and west. Access is good - parking for a couple of cars at the reserve entrance and disabled access / bird hide suitable for wheelchairs.

A Wildlife Trust reserve. Secondary mixed deciduous and wet woodland and lowland meadow. The woodland canopy is made up of a considerable mixture of species. The meadow also contains a great variety of grasses and sedges, and more than 100 species of vascular plants have been recorded.

A Wildlife Trust reserve. Tucked in close to the village of Killay, the reserve consists of marsh / marshy grassland and a large area of wet woodland, drier broadleaved woodland, dry netral grassland, fen and swamp, and is the remnant of a much larger valley mire.

A Wildlife Trust reserve. Secondary broadleaved woodland within a disused limestone quarry. Peel Wood occupies the site of the former Callencroft quarry.

A Wildlife Trust reserve. A limestone headland cloaked in secondary broadleaved woodland, scrub and grassland.

A perfect example of nature taking back that which was once hers. A disused limestone quarry which has naturalised beautifully. The quarry face is also designated an SSSI due to the expsed alternate beds of crinoidal limestone with clays associated with thin seams of coal - a geological exposure unique in Wales.

A Wildlife Trust reserve. A narrow strip of woodland sandwiched in the valley which follows the A4118 (south Gower road) in the Parkmill valley. The woods are mostly ancient semi-natural and broad-leaved. The canopy is made up of ash, oak, beech, and elm, with a beech plantation making up a large part of the southern woodland. Access is good via a layby just east of the Gower Inn at Parkmill.

A Wildlife Trust reserve. Formerly a conifer plantation, the trust have now removed most of the conifers and allowed a natural regeneration of mixed deciduoud woodland (dominated by ash) to establish itself. Access is difficult via Parc woods.

A Wildlife Trust reserve. A large shallow pool lying on the heath of Cefn Bryn common. Rich assemblage of aquatic plants, including the fringed water lily introduced here in 1952.

A Wildlife Trust reserve. Features: Limestone grassland, scrub, and quarries. Steep limetone scarps.

A Countryside Council of Wales managed National Nature Reserve. Features: Foreshore, dunes, marshes, and woodland. Diverse species, particularly flowers, birds and insects. Over six hundred kinds of flowering plants have been recorded here. The reserve is easy to explore and is particularly suitable for field studies. Access is excellent - park in the Oxwich beach car park.

A Wildlife Trust reserve. Features: An excellent example of an ancient mixed deciduous woodland. A mix of ages yielding a nice variation in habitat type and associated fauna.

A Wildlife Trust reserve. Features: Sea cliff, foreshore, limestone grassland, heathland, secondary ash woodland. Excellent spot for bird watching throughout the year. Easy access via the pay and display car park at the head of the beach.

A Wildlife Trust reserve. Features: Wide ranging habitats, including Hawthorn and Blackthorn scrub, mixed gorse, heath, open limestone scree, improved and unimproved limestone grassland.

A Wildlife Trust nature reserve. Features: Sea cliff, limestone grassland, heath and scrub. Excellent bird watching spot, particularly in the breeding season.

A Wildlife Trust nature reserve. Features: Sea cliffs, limestone grassland, heath. The reserve is named after an archaeologically significant bone cave in the area.

A Wildlife Trust reserve. Features: Sea cliff, calcareous grassland, and heath. The reserve is names after a bone cave in the locality.