The Pwllpeiran Upland Research Platform is a centre for the study of upland farmed ecosystems. It is located in the heart of the Cambrian Mountains, West Wales, immediately adjacent to the Elenydd Special Area of Conservation.
Just over 50% of utilised UK agricultural land is classified as Less Favoured Area, and within Wales this figure rises to 80%. A combination of altitude, soil characteristics and climatic conditions restricts most farms within these areas to extensive sheep and cattle production, and around 60% of the UK breeding flock and 60% of the UK beef suckler herd are found in the uplands.
Upland regions also play a vital role in delivering a range of ecosystem services; e.g. water management (including provision of drinking water and flood mitigation), carbon management (including soil carbon conservation and sequestration), and landscape and heritage management (including tourism, recreation and educational access).
Pwllpeiran has a long and unrivalled record of involvement with change and development in the uplands, and discoveries at the site have driven pasture-based agriculture internationally.
In the 1930’s Pwllpeiran became the centre of Sir George Stapledon’s pioneering Cahn Hill Improvement Scheme developing methods of establishing productive hill pastures. An Experimental Husbandry Farm was subsequently established at the site in 1955, and today Pwllpeiran is the only publicly owned upland research farm in England and Wales.
The range of vegetation types offered within the Platform is extensive and covers a continuum from intensively-managed improved swards to mountain pasture. This diversity enables the impact of different management scenarios to be tested on a range of vegetation types at a single site, minimising confounding with climatic and other environmental factors.
The semi-natural communities present include habitats of international conservation interest as well as key vegetation types with regards to water and carbon management, and all the semi-natural rough grazing (SNRG) is enclosed within a ring fence. Within many of the communities present previous experimental work has created areas at different stages of recovery or change.