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Countryside Council for Wales
About CCW Please note - A new body, Natural Resources Wales has taken over all functions and services previously carried out by Countryside Council for Wales. While the Natural Resources Wales website continues to be developed, some online services will continue to be provided on this web site.

Kenfig National Nature Reserve
Dune know what’s going on?

Experimental work starts to save rare flower, at its last remaining habitat in Wales.

Liparis restoration slack

Fen orchids, which rely on the continual creation of sand dunes, have disappeared from almost all coastal sites across Wales. Now, these fragile white flowers are under threat at Kenfig National Nature Reserve near Bridgend – one of their last remaining strongholds in the UK.

Heavy machinery, not always associated with a tranquil coastal setting, is coming to their rescue. Work to create new dune slack habitat started on the 15th of February and will continue until the 26th. In time, this will become ideal habitat for two very rare species which are of European importance - Petalwort (Petalophyllum ralfsii), a rare liverwort, will hopefully be spotted within the first five years, and the fen orchid within ten years.

Clive Hurford, CCW Conservation Monitoring Team Leader said: “We are stepping in to give nature a helping hand. The natural process of dune creation has been disrupted due to a range of issues, such as fewer summer storms to blow dry sand inland, which has led to less sand being available for dunes to regenerate naturally. Also, lower levels of grazing by rabbits, sheep and cattle have contributed to making the dunes less suitable to fen orchids which depend on the short and open vegetation found in newly-formed dune slacks.”

The Countryside Council for Wales will be monitoring this project at Kenfig in collaboration with staff from Bridgend County Borough Council.

Bridgend Council Reserve Manager David Carrington said: “We will be keeping a close eye on how wildlife, especially the very rare plants, colonise the new habitat. This will help us plan a long term strategy for the site and secure the future of fen orchids, one of Wales’ rarest natural treasures.”

Over 13,000 people visit Kenfig National Nature Reserve every year to enjoy the area's wildlife and make use of its award-winning visitor centre.

The day to day management of Kenfig NNR is undertaken by Bridgend County Borough Council.

Some history….

On this site, there was once a thriving town and castle. But, from thirteenth to the sixteenth century, the dunes at Kenfig extended and finally engulfed the town and nearby farmland during a series of violent storms.

The only surviving evidence of the ancient borough is the castle keep, which rises out of the dunes at the north east corner of the reserve.

Apart from the boardwalk to the bird hides, access to the dunes is along natural sandy paths which are undulating and soft.

How to get there:

Kenfig National Nature Reserve can be reached from Junction 37 of the M4 Motorway and is signposted from North Cornelly, Pyle and Porthcawl. Free car park.

Public Transport

Local buses stop outside the reserve. For more information contact Traveline Cymru on 0871 2002233.


There is a visitor centre with an exhibition and a shop selling leaflets and booklets about the reserve and other wildlife in Wales. A boardwalk leads from the visitor centre to hides overlooking Kenfig Pool.


For more information contact Brân Devey, Press Officer, on 02920 772 403 or 07747767443.

CCW is supporting the 2010 International Year of Biodiversity, declared by the United Nations. Biodiversity is the variety of life on Earth. It is essential for sustaining the natural living systems or ecosystems that provide us with food, fuel, health, wealth, and other vital services. To find out more visit http://www.biodiversityislife.net

The Countryside Council for Wales is an Assembly Government Sponsored Body, working for a better Wales where everyone values and cares for our natural environment. More information about our work is available on www.ccw.gov.uk

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