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Major drive to bring new life to precious habitats

A major conservation project to improve some of Wales’ rarest and most important habitats gets under way this week.

Natural Resources Wales’ (NRW) £4 million project will bring new life to Welsh raised bogs - rare habitats created over thousands of years when plants in the bog turn into peat and build up into a raised dome.

The project will improve the condition of seven of the most important sites in Wales.

These have been altered by centuries of peat cutting and drainage.

But, in peak condition, they help tackle climate change by storing vast amounts of carbon that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere.

The drive to repair them will also improve drainage systems, cut invasive species, remove scrub and introduce light grazing – all in partnership with local communities, landowners and contractors.

To mark the occasion, Cabinet Secretary for the Environment and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, is visiting the internationally renowned wildlife site at Cors Caron, near Tregaron, on Thursday 19 October.

NRW manages this site as well as Cors Fochno in north Ceredigion, the two largest sites in the project.

Restoration work will also take place at sites near Trawsfynydd, Fishguard, Crosshands, Crickhowell and Builth Wells.

Funding for the four-year project has come from an EU LIFE programme grant and NRW, with support from Welsh Government and the Snowdonia National Park Authority.

Cabinet Secretary Lesley Griffiths said: “I am delighted that NRW has succeeded in obtaining funding from the EU LIFE programme to help restore peat bogs in Wales.

“This ambitious project will demonstrate the benefits of peatland restoration and will generate long term environmental, economic and social benefits, in line with our Nature Recovery Action Plan and our commitment to the wellbeing of future generations.

“We are committed to bringing all peatlands, supporting semi natural habitats into sustainable management by 2020 and have established an integrated programme of delivery to ensure this target is met.”

“The aim of this project is to improve the conservation status of around 690ha of peatland within the 7 raised bog Special Areas of Conservation wholly within Wales – our most important peatland sites of European importance.”

Emyr Roberts, Chief Executive of Natural Resources Wales said: “To some people, a bog may appear rather barren and unimportant. But in reality the complete opposite is true. A healthy bog brings great benefits to wildlife and people.

“They are home to rare plants and animals, including the large-heath butterfly and the iconic bog rosemary. They also help fight climate change by storing carbon, and are great places to visit to enjoy nature and all the benefits of being active outdoors.

“This injection of EU LIFE funding means we can improve their condition so that Welsh raised bogs continue to create new peat and lock in more carbon.

“The benefits of the work will continue long after the project and have a positive impact for generations to come.”