Ffridd describes the habitat found between upland and lowland in Wales – there is no english translation. The habitat is described within the Brecon beacons website as
‘Ffridd or Coedcae is used to describe the habitats present between the upland and lowland habitats of Wales. It is a diverse mixture of grass and heathland with bracken, scrub (often hawthorn and gorse) or rock exposures and may also include flushes, mires, streams and standing water.
Ffridd zone is difficult to define in terms of a single vegetation community as its primary characteristic is of a collection of various habitats. It can perhaps be best described as the mosaic of fragmented and diverse habitats found at the interface of upland and lowland habitats. It is almost exclusively found on slopes, particularly those areas that cannot be effectively farmed due to steepness or the frequency of rock outcrops and scree. Ffridd may also develop on previous areas of conifer plantation which has yet to be re-planted.
It is a group of semi-natural habitats and can be noted for its dynamic nature as the Ffridd zone has a long history of changing cycles of management. Ffridd will often display successional stages in the development of woodland from grass/heathland habitats.
The boundaries of Ffridd are also very difficult to define and it will often grade gently into more clearly defined upland mosaics above and lowland pastures and woodland below.
The variety of vegetation, communities and structural features make this a habitat of high diversity. While not only capable of supporting numerous species, this ffridd zone has been identified as a habitat of high connectivity in that it can facilitate the movement of numerous species. This value should not be underestimated and the ffridd is a vital component of the landscape providing species with the ability to make vertical movements as they seek a more suitable future climate space.’
There is a lot of it in our study area – on the flanks of most hillsides and forms a very important habitat in the Rhayader area. The group has chosen the strip of land on the Gilfach nature reserve to the north of the road running past the carpark at Pont Marteg. The habitat consists of rough, unimproved grassland, gorse, some heather, bilberry, bracken – which has, to a degree, been controlled as well as areas of bare rock. The site, particularly on its eastern end has scattered birch, hawthorn and rowan trees.Close to the road the area inclines gently but soon becomes steeply inclined and rocky.
The group met on Sunday 13th June to carry out a trial biodiversity audit – with Richard Knight and entomologist Phil Ward giving guidance. The following is a list of some of the species found – after further visits over the summer a more comprehensive list will be published.
Heath Speedwell, Heath Bedstraw, Pennywort, Foxglove, Mouse eared hawkweed, Bell Heather, Lessser stitchwort, Germander Speedwell
Large White, Small Heath, Green hairstreak
Forester, Fox Moth, Northern Eggar, Pale shouldered brocade, Common Heath
Other invertebrates included 3 species of click beetle, masses of Garden Chaffer, Common Green and Mottled Grasshopper, Bombus Monticola, Common carder, Gorse weevil.
Willow warbler, Yellowhammer (3 singing males), Lesser Redpoll, Meadow Pipit, Common Buzzard, Red Kite, Tree Pipit, Carrion Crow, Linnet.