Grasslands of Wales provides a thorough account of the vegetation of species-rich grasslands in lowland Wales at the end of the 20th century. It sets out the findings of 18 years of research and survey of all significant stands of agriculturally unimproved lowland grasslands and their associated vegetation. Such wildlife-rich grasslands have been widely replaced by much less diverse rye-grass swards. The survey covered 1070 sites of varying size and pioneered the use of the National Vegetation Classification for identifying and mapping vegetation at a regional scale. Over 150 different vegetation types were recorded, and this book characterises their forms and relationships, and extent and distribution within species-rich grasslands in lowland Wales. Grasslands of Wales includes detailed phytosociological floristic descriptions, extent data and distribution maps of lowland grassland plant communities and sub-communities, with critical comments on how each differs from similar plant communities and what vegetation types each is typically associated with in the field. Quadrat records are summarised in syptic tables. Technical analyses of the data are presented giving insights into community distribution patterns and associations. New information on the physical and environmental characteristics of lowland grassland communities within Wales is assembled, and data on soil characteristics of Welsh lowland grasslands and associated flush communities are given in detail. Also reviewed in this book are the rare and uncommon plant species associated with lowland grasslands in this part of western Britain. The authors have worked for most of their careers in applied conservation biology, and a strong conservation current runs through the book.
The authors worked as part of the Terrestrial Science Group of the Countryside Council for Wales, the successor body to the Nature Conservancy Council for Wales, during the preparation of this book. Until his untimely death in 2007, David Stevens co-ordinated the Lowland Grassland Survey of Wales. Stuart Smith spent several years undertaking grassland field survey, and has since had a major role in compiling the survey findings. Tim Blackstock is head of the group and has overseen the grassland survey since its inception in 1987. Sam Bosanquet participated in the final phase of fieldwork on the grassland survey, and has played a key role in analysing the spatial dataset. Jane Stevens has organised the database with the survey findings and undertook vegetation data analysis.