HNV Farmland: South Wales
by Gwyn Jones
- [visit the Welsh version of this showcase]
South Wales - how green is my valley?
Wales is a small country of just under 2.1 million ha located in the west of the UK. 60% of its 1.7 million ha of farmland lies above 150 m and 27% of the land is over 300 m. With its high rainfall, preponderance of hills and mountains and, in general, poor quality soils, Wales is more heavily dependent on livestock production than most other parts of the UK. 80% of the land is considered of low quality and 1.1 million ha are classified as Less Favoured Areas.
Over 83% of the agricultural land is under permanent grass or used for rough grazing and just over 9% is temporary grass; only 5% is used for tillage crops. Over most of the country beef and sheep now dominate, although dairying remains an important part of the economy, and the source of a large proportion of the beef herd. The ewe flock is over 5 million and the cattle herd over 200,000.
South Wales contains broadly two types of agricultural landscape - the unenclosed uplands and the small farm landscape of the lowlands. In the uplands, land use has largely simplified to a sheep ranching system; the lowlands is mainly what it called in France a bocage landscape, with thousands of small fields and a high density of hedges.
Wales is still a very rural country, but there is one notable exception - the coalfield of South Wales. However, unlike most other industrial areas, the population in crowded into narrow valleys located in an upland massif with a lot of HNV farmland and many unique problems.
The Elenydd is the recently resurrected name for the large upland block which forms the backbone of central Wales ...
Read more: Information gallery "The Elenydd"
Much of lowland South Wales consists of rolling hills broken by numerous valleys, ...
Read more: Information gallery "Lowlands"
The main South Wales coalfield is the only truly upland coalfield in the UK ...
Read more: Information gallery "Coalfield"
Defining High Nature Value farmland in South Wales / Support payments in Wales ...
Read more: Facts & Figures