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Farming Forestry General

A case study outlining how the Glastir Commons and Advanced contract has worked in Blaenau Gwent.

Manmoel Common consists of over 320 hectares of common land lying along a ridge in Blaenau Gwent. Surrounded by towns and smaller settlements, this high ridge separates the Sirhowy and Ebbw valleys.

A small village nestled on the top of this common is well known for being the home of Brace’s Bread and more recently the area was subject to an extremely successful operation to tackle fly- grazing on the common.

Following a clean up undertaken in 2014, the Grazing Association to considered submitting  an application to Glastir Commons. The Commons Development Officer (CDO) worked with the lead grazier to hold a meeting to gauge the interest and viability of entering the scheme from those who actually grazed the mountain.

Existing stocking figures were accumulated over a series of discussions and meetings and a picture of the way the mountain was run and operated began to emerge. Luckily their figures were within the limits of the Glastir Commons requirements and it seemed viable to proceed. A group of five farmers who worked well together constituted themselves into a formal Graziers and Commoners Group for the mountain.

Whilst work on drafting their members agreement and constitution began in earnest, the Welsh Government announced that any commons entering Glastir Commons scheme in 2015 would also be given the opportunity to consider a Glastir Advanced contact to start at the same time. This involved further management of stocking levels and as this was a greater task, consideration was given to holding an open meeting to discuss and consider both contracts.

The CDO assisted the group at the beginning to draft up a constitution and to come to a formal member’s agreement and PLANED assisted with funding to obtain legal advice on the documents. In November of 2014 the Graziers and Commoner Group held their first Annual General Meeting and agreed to proceed with the Glastir Commons and Advanced contract.

They are undertaking a combined programme of management of flexible stocking rates in Glastir Commons and a further stocking reduction regime in Advanced. They are now a legally constituted group who work effectively together through Glastir Commons funded under the RDP to manage the grazing on the hill.

More information: www.wales.gov.uk/glastir.