What is ‘special’ about Penrhoslligwy SSSI?

As well as the features listed above, Penrhoslligwy has other habitats that contribute to the special interest. These include hedgerows, streams, ponds, small rock outcrops and scattered scrub. This mixture of habitats is important for much of the wildlife. Unless specified below, management of this site should aim to look after these habitats as well as the listed features of interest.

What do we want Penrhoslligwy to look like?

At least two thirds of each compartment of the site should be heathland characterised by heather, bell heather, cross-leaved heath and western gorse with a varied structure including areas of bare ground between shrubby heather. Bracken or scrub may be scattered but should not cover more than a third of the site. Flush mire with black bog rush and grass-of-Parnassus should be found wherever water floods the surface. There should be at least 500 plants of the rare marsh gentian, distributed on all four compartments of the site.

What management is needed on Penrhoslligwy SSSI and why?

The site’s special features have been created and maintained by traditional farming methods such as grazing, mowing, turf cutting and small patch burning. This is in addition to natural factors such as thin, infertile soil, exposure to wind and poor drainage. Changes in farming practices, such as the use of more intensive farming methods could damage the wildlife of the SSSI. Although Penrhoslligwy 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 Penrhoslligwy if they are not properly managed. These are the ones we regard as most important:

Grazing: Light grazing, to remove excess herbage, encourages the development and maintenance of dwarf shrub heath. Cattle and horses are preferred as they are less selective in their grazing habits than sheep, permitting more plants to flower and set seed, whilst also breaking up dense clumps of gorse. They also produce minor poaching of the ground enabling seedlings to establish. Animal dung is an important resource for many invertebrates and fungi and for the animals that feed upon them.

Burning: Controlled small patch burning, during the winter, should be used to encourage new growth for livestock as part of a heathland management scheme. A long-term plan should be developed for firebreaks and annual burns. Burning can encourage regeneration of heather, help control scrub and enable stock access to the heathland, but caution should be taken before burning wet heath where mosses could be dried out. To avoid bracken invasion grazing must follow burns particularly on deeper soils. Controlled burning reduces the risk of large accidental burns, which can devastate large areas of heathland and grassland particularly in summer. Burning therefore needs to be undertaken with extreme caution.

Mowing: Mowing can be used to open up areas of scrub or bracken, but should be followed with grazing. Mowing is a recommended alternative to burning particularly on sites with wet heath, where the heather is very old and burning may be difficult to control, or where gorse dominance is a problem. It is most often used in the first instance to provide firebreaks.

Scrub management: Small patches of scrub provide shelter for invertebrates, nest sites and song posts for birds and should be tolerated. Scrub control should be followed by grazing and should aim to restore the area of heathland, to control invasive conifers, or to stop wetter areas drying up. It should be done on a rotational basis, with a small proportion undertaken annually. Cutting scrub and bruising bracken (or trampling with heavy stock in late spring) is preferable to using chemicals, although stump treatment may be the best method of ensuring the roots are killed.

Nutrients and fertilisers: Low soil fertility helps heather and western gorse to compete against more aggressive agricultural grasses. The application of any fertiliser or slurry should be avoided and animals should not be fed with silage on the site.


Our knowledge of wildlife is far from complete. It is possible that new features of value may appear and new management 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. 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;

Cyngor Cefn Gwlad Cymru/Countryside Council for Wales

North Region

Llys y Bont,

Ffordd y Parc,

Parc Menai,


Gwynedd, LL57 4BN,

Telephone: 01248 672500

Fax: 01248 679259