Sam Ridge -Peatland Project Officer
All of the restoration works within the Park form part of the Peatlands Restoration Strategy, which responds to the Natural Resources Wales / The National Peatland Action Programme . This is a five-year plan for peat restoration within Wales, improving peatland ecosystem resilience. Over 200 hectares have been restored within the Park over the last ten years. Targeted restoration will have a wider zone of benefit.
Restoration work involves National Park staff including ecologists, archaeologists, GIS specialists and wardens. Volunteers generously give their time to helping with practical elements such as hands on restoration and surveying. The work relies on permission from landowners, the support of graziers and, where on a Site of Special Scientific Interest, permission from Natural Resources Wales.
It is now widely recognised that we are in a climate emergency. Peatland restoration helps to mitigate against that challenge, improving the security of these massive carbon stores.
Peatland Recovery Project
Peatlands are unique ecosystems and form an important part of Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons) National Park’s upland landscape. Waterlogged conditions lead to slow plant and vegetation decomposition with consequent storage of huge amounts of carbon over thousands of years.
Of the estimated 15,922 hectares of peatland in Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons) National Park most are in unfavourable condition. Carbon is being released, both into the atmosphere and into the watercourses due to drying and erosion. The work we are doing forms part of efforts to conserve carbon stores worldwide in response to climate change.
At present the Authority has identified areas that are actively degrading and secured multi-year funding from the Sustainable Landscapes, Sustainable Places fund as well as Strategic Allocation Funding. With support from Dwr Cymru Welsh Water, we are also developing restoration projects that can improve drinking water quality within the Brecon Beacons Mega Catchment.
As restoration work scales up so does our need for detailed understanding of our peatlands. Collaborative working is a key component with support from a growing number of universities. Their work improves knowledge of key elements including understanding peatland condition, function and associated carbon loss within the Park.
Uncontrolled wildfires are increasing globally. Within the Park wildfires and arson threaten sensitive and protected areas including peatlands. Drying peatlands are more at risk of severe fire, burning the peat and releasing vast stores of carbon. Restoration work aims to re-wet peat, improving its resilience against fires.
To create healthy peatlands across the Park, providing a stabilising and positive influence on carbon management, nature recovery, fire management and water quality within our uplands. In delivering our aims, we will increase our peatland restoration work to help address the challenges we face, working with landowners and other agencies to help restore all of the degrading peatland areas within the Park.
Y Bannau: The Future
Y Bannau: The Future provides a framework of understanding that focusses on the key elements within the Park and the processes relating to them. Peatland condition impacts them all to a greater or lesser extent. I am positive about the opportunities the Y Bannau: The Future approach can bring to improving our understanding of landscape scale ecosystem function as peatlands play such an important role.