Great Traston Meadows reserve, Nash
The Solutia Nature Reserve at Great Traston Meadows is a product of collaborative working. It’s been managed by Gwent Wildlife Trust since 2003 in partnership with the Solutia company (later acquired by the Eastman Chemical Company), which owns 31 hectares (0.31sq km) of the 36 hectare (0.36sq km) reserve. In 2012 the reserve gained two additional fields through collaboration with the Environment Agency.
The reserve’s hay meadows and ditches are rare habitats. Some are designated Sites of Special Scientific Interest. More than 95% of Britain’s hay meadows have been lost since the Second World War due to changes in land management, so this area of the Gwent Levels is a stronghold for hay meadows’ increasingly rare plants. The reserve’s traditional hay meadows are managed in partnership with local farmers, to enable the rich mixture of plants and animals to thrive.
Britain’s rarest bumble bee, the shrill carder bee, is often found on the reserve. Listen for its high-pitched wing beat as it feeds on the flowering plants of the hay meadows. Through the summer southern marsh orchids are a common sight with their robust pink flower spikes. If you’re lucky, you may also see the crimson-pink flowers of the grass vetchling, as it briefly shows that it’s not really a grass.
The Gwent Levels is an evolving landscape that has, since Roman times, contained sea walls and drainage structures. Wildlife has made the most of the opportunities available on this artificial ground.
Everyone can enjoy the reserve throughout the year thanks to Gwent Wildlife Trust’s work with support and input from Solutia, the Environment Agency, the Internal Drainage Board, Veolia, the Countryside Council for Wales, Kaleidoscope Newport, Newport City Council and many local volunteers
With thanks to Richard Bakere of Gwent Wildlife Trust