New multi-million-pound projects to conserve Welsh rivers and bogs

TWO major projects have been given the green light to protect, enhance and help restore nature and the environment in Wales – great news to help tackle the Nature Emergency.

These projects, supported through the EU’s LIFE Programme and match funded by the Welsh Government, will ensure that the £13.8 million cash injection will breathe new life into urgent conservation challenges over the next five years.

More than nine million pounds will be invested into bringing four Welsh rivers into good condition – the Teifi, Cleddau, Tywi and Usk. An estimated 500km of river will be improved.

Just over £4.5 million will conserve quaking bogs – so called because of the way this peatland habitat literally shakes under your feet! The largest of the last remaining quaking bogs in Wales is Crymlyn Bog on the outskirts of Swansea.

Other areas of quaking bogs will also be targeted, including at St David’s in Pembrokeshire and on the Llŷn Peninsula. They are all in need of intensive care due to damage in the past from drainage, pollution or neglect. But they but still harbour very rare species – including Britain’s largest spider, the great fen raft spider at Crymlyn and the marsh fritillary butterfly in Pembrokeshire and Gwynedd.

Key to success will be working closely with local landowners, communities and partner organisations.

Nick Thomas, NRW LIFE Projects Manager said: “There is much work to be done to bring our rivers and peat bogs into good condition so that they can support a wealth of wildlife.

“By looking after nature, we look after ourselves, as we all depend on clean rivers and a healthy natural environment. And a well-managed wetland helps store carbon, contributing to Wales’ fight against climate change.”

Four Rivers for LIFE will:

  • Improve river habitats and conditions for migratory fish – most notably Atlantic salmon, sea and river lamprey, bullhead and shad. Otters and freshwater pearl mussels are set to benefit too;
  • Re-profile sections of canalised rivers so that they meander once again – great news for wildlife. But also for people, as slowing the flow can reduce flood risk downstream;
  • Work with farmers to protect river corridors and reduce sediments and nutrients from entering rivers. This will have the added benefit of safeguarding important drinking water supplies.

LIFE Quaking Bog will restore seven Special Areas of Conservation, four of which are National Nature Reserves, by:

  • Getting the water level right for quaking bogs’ specialised plantlife and wildlife;
  • Controlling scrub and non-native invasive species that can smother the natural habitat;
  • Reintroducing traditional grazing;
  • Improving access so that more people can experience and enjoy nature at its best.

Nick Thomas added: “We’ll be getting these projects off the ground early in 2022, so that we see real environmental improvements over the next few years.

“There will be exciting job opportunities advertised over the coming weeks to drive these projects forward, so keep your eyes open if you want to join our team and help tackle Wales’ Nature Emergency.

“It has never been more important for us to ensure we have a vibrant, sustainable and resilient environment for generations to come.”

Four Rivers for LIFE will be run by NRW in partnership with the Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Authority, River Restoration Trust, Coleg Sir Gâr and the Woodland Trust, with additional financial support from Dŵr Cymru/Welsh Water.

NRW’s LIFE Quaking Bogs partners are the National Trust and the Snowdonia and Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authorities.