This topic contains 3 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by T Small 2 years, 6 months ago.
How do you feel about our upland areas and the way they are used and managed? Tell us about any concerns you have or suggestions to make improvements. Sharing your views and ideas will help us develop a plan for natural resource management in the area.
23rd June 2015 at 11:59 am #352
I would like to see sympathetic restoration of some of our upland areas to their natural wooded state – “re-wilding” if you like. As well as creating additional woodland habitat and improving biological connectivity, this would have the added bonus of slowing down the arrival of water into river systems in times of rainfall, and thereby reducing flood risks downstream. There are existing examples of this notably in Scotland and in Cwm Idwal in North Wales following the last major foot and mouth outbreak.
Of course we might not want to lose the lovely (though essentially “man-made”) open vistas of our uplands – the atmospheric “empty quarter” of the Mawr springs to mind – however, by careful zoning of re-wilded areas this openness could be retained.
There would obviously be a need to work cooperatively with existing landowners, graziers and commoners on such a project.1st July 2015 at 11:39 am #392
Upland farming hard work and not very profitable so farmers have had to increase stocking levels over the years which are now at unstainable levels and now the uplands are over grazed causing compaction, loss of upland species, increasing run off rates and worsening flood events the lower catchment.
Bogs, trees and vegetation generally – but especially native habitats act like huge sponges slowly releasing water that falls as rain.
Habitats also (generally) slow down, soak up and store carbon dioxide and water so bioengineering is a essential natural “control” for flooding and carbon induced climate change
Bogs restoration is a brilliant idea but take hundreds of years to create resilient robust bogs.
Native woodland in some areas would be great too but bog species also in huge decline so arguable need more help.14th July 2015 at 1:06 pm #413
It is disappointing to see people still using the terms ‘re-wilding’ and ‘natural wooded state’ in the context of conservation of the uplands. The UK’s moorlands and ‘man-made open vistas’, including mire habitats, fens, heath, blanket bog and marshy grassland are of international importance, the catchment of the Tawe in particular supporting many rare species of Lepidoptera, Odonata, and species on the red list under the European Birds Directive 2009/147/EC to name but a few. Many of these species survive here due to the area having avoided afforestation, and sustainable grazing systems are an essential part of maintaining healthy ecosystems in these upland habitats, avoiding devastating summer wildfires, and further loss of peatlands and rare ground nesting bird habitat. In fact, the Welsh Government consider peatlands with tree cover to be subject to widespread degredation.
I would like to correct a couple of points that have been made on here:
The vast majority of UK uplands are not presently ‘overgrazed’, and LSU densities on our commons are not at ‘unsustainable levels’. If you have spent time walking the uplands since the 1980’s you will see that away from the overgrazed verges and cattle grids, vast swathes of the uplands are actually currently undergrazed, and rank vegetation is adding to an increasing amount of unfavourable habitat, and potentially more frequent, severe and intense wildfires during long dry periods. The propensity and risk for these also seems to be increasing due to climate change.
There is definitely potential in the Tawe catchment to create more valuable woodland habitat on eroding areas, steep slopes, and especially bracken dominated land, but these sites need to be looked at carefully as they can also be important habitats for certain species in their own right.
The Welsh Government have set a target that all peatland supporting semi natural habitat, (approx 63,000 ha) will be subject to restoration by 2020. However, even with an ideal scenario of all our blanket bogs in favourable condition, acting as good Carbon sinks, whilst also providing excellent habitat for our endangered species, we will still have issues with flooding. It is a natural occurence, and problems lower down the Tawe valley have occured from widespread historical over development on much of the floodplain, and continuous delvelopment within it, relying on an antiquated system of storm drains, waste water systems and other natural resource infrastructures, causing a host of other environmental problems. I agree that bioengineering will need to play an essential part in managing our natural resources, but here probably more so than in the upper Tawe catchment, which like a sponge, can only ‘hold back’ so much water.
Blanket bog creation and subsequent peat formation does take hundreds of years, but restoration can be achieved in a couple of decades on many sites, and has already been achieved in 10 years or so on strategic areas of the Tawe catchment, the aim being to stop the loss of peat through the cycle of oxidisation and subsequent erosion from both grazing pressure and extremes of weather. In the past this has caused a large amount of organic and inorganic C, and particulate C to disappear down the rivers, but as these areas are now becoming more stable, this is not such a big issue on the Tawe catchment. Water quality issues here generally emanate from highly populated areas lower in the flood plain, poor planning policies over the years, and lack of, or non existant sewage and waste water management systems.