Peatland Preservation

Peatland Preservation & Flood / River Basin Management

Strategaethau mawndir a rheoli llifogydd


The Cambrian Mountains include a substantial volume of peatland and already play an important role in flood management.

Pumlumon alone is a considerable catchment, covered in large areas of blanket bog and forest, together acting as a sponge for the high rainfall across the area.  For many years the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology has had a major research project based on this important catchment.

The Elenydd, a huge upland block, sometimes referred to as ‘the green desert’,  comprises a combination of expansive blanket bog, bordered by coniferous plus native deciduous woodland.  In this block lie Dwr Cymru’s reservoirs such as the Elan Valley system and Llyn Brianne.

Mynydd Mallaen is a large upland dome clothed in a tapestry of water retaining heath, unimproved grassland and blanket bog.

Peat bogs are a most important archive documenting human activity in the Cambrian Mountains. Despite their archaeological and ecological importance, they are an undervalued and diminishing resource, with many hectares having been lost during construction of Cefn Croes wind power station.


Peatland preservation

We call for a  peatland management strategy, designed to maximise carbon uptake and retention.

At present, peatlands in the Cambrian Mountains suffer repeated damage through conifer plantations and the infrastructure/ foundational work for wind turbines.

Planted sympathetically, commercial forestry can also be managed with wildlife and the environment in mind. When in inappropriate locations, however, these trees can damage habitats, such as peat bogs, fragment open landscapes, harbour predators and so prove catastrophic for wildlife

Similarly, some types of upland agriculture do benefit wildlife, such as low-intensity cattle and sheep farming. But heavy grazing contributes to a loss of rare habitats, and too much drainage has damaged internationally important blanket bogs, risking the release of their stored carbon.

Unsustainable farming practices include burning peatland plants causing damage to the fragile ecosystem. Many UK water companies are concerned about water quality from peatland catchments, especially rising levels of water colour, associated with exporting dissolved organic carbon, exacerbated by moorland degradation. This problem brings associated rising costs of water treatment and concerns over health issues from disinfection by-products.[1]

For more information on the importance of peatlands and actions being taken in the UK for their conservation, take a look at the International Union for the Conservation of Natures Peatland Programme.

Link: IUCN UK Peatland Programme

Natural Flood Management

Natural Flood Management needs to be implemented in alignment with the Welsh Government’s Natural Resources Policy of moving toward a low carbon based economy.

The Cambrian Mountains’ blanket bogs, in addition to acting as a huge rainwater sponges slowing the release of rainwater into streams and rivers, have the potential to sequester enormous amounts of carbon.

Indeed, further investment in flood management offers a perfect opportunity for seeking Payment for Ecosystem Services  through the Government in Westminster and/or insurance companies contributing to the maintenance of the Welsh Uplands in order to mitigate flood risk downstream in Hereford and Gloucester.


CMS recommends investment in further projects linked to natural flood management in the Cambrians such as the three ongoing schemes below:

[1] Clutterbuck, Labadz and Yelloff Impact Case Study: Peatland Management for Biodiversity Conservation and Water Resources (Nottingham Trent University)

What can you do to help?

We can all take small steps to help preserve our peatlands.

  • Go peat-free in your graden! Buy peat-free compost for your plants. It isn not identical to familiar peat composts, but it can still produce good results. Peat-free alternatives exist although they are often not clearly labelled or promoted so do look carefully. Peat-free composts are be made from a variety of ingredients, including wood fibre, green compost, manure and coir (coconut fibre). There may still be associated emissions such as the impact of importing coir, but these are normally less than the effect of destroying peatlands.
  • Speak to your garden centre if they do not stock peat-free and tell them you would prefer it – clearly labelled.
  • Write to your Senedd Members and MP, asking what actions they are taking to help protect mid-Wales’ irreplaceable peatlands.
  • Finally, visit and enjoy our wonderful peatlands, getting to know – and respect – the extraordinary plants, insects and birdlife which live on, under and around them.