This year marks the 60th anniversary of the Gower Peninsula Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The Gower in south Wales was the first of these special areas, designed to protect important landscapes from unsuitable development.
We asked Kathryn Thomas, Rhossili Ranger, about what makes the Gower special.
The Gower peninsula has the feel of an island. The same families have farmed the Gower for generations. I’m a Lancashire lass by birth and have only lived here for eight years; but the Gower is a welcoming place.
Ours is a working landscape of farms. But it’s also a fragile landscape; where wildlife flourishes thanks to careful management. The AONB helps protect the Gower’s important historic and natural landscape from being lost. It’s like a cosier, more intimate national park.
The Gower is home to rare wildlife. I live on the north of the peninsula. My house overlooks salt marshes that in winter play host to thousands of wintering birds like Curlew and Eider ducks. Among the rare flowers here is the Fen Orchid. It doesn’t look all that special: a little green spike. But it is very rare, found only in East Anglia and a scattering of dunes in south Wales.
As summer turns into autumn, you can hear the Grey Seals on Worms Head getting ready for the pupping season.
We’ve also got the best beaches in the world. Thousands flock to Rhossili Beach, with its three miles of sand. But the locals know that Whiteford Sands is a strong contender for the Gower’s best beach.
You can watch Kathryn talk about the Gower AONB on COAST, BBC2 tonight at 8pm.
A quarter of the countryside that we look after is part of AONBs. Find out what we’re doing to support Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.