Heavy-metal habitats: calaminarian grassland in Gwydyr Forest Mines SAC
Named after the zinc ore ‘calamine’, calaminarian grassland is often associated with old mining works and describes the habitat that develops over metal-rich rocks and spoil. With a focus on Gwydyr Forest Mines SAC in Snowdonia National Park in Wales, Caroline Bateson describes the wildlife characteristic of this habitat, its history, and raises important considerations for the future management of this special site.
Above and to the north-west of the popular village of Betws-y-Coed, in Snowdonia National Park, are steep, forestry-clad slopes. I had driven along the A5 and up the tiny mountain road behind Ty Hyll (the Ugly House) on many occasions, without knowing about the unusual habitat bearing the name calaminarian grassland, concealed behind the dark green stands of conifers.