WORK to restore 23 hectares of bog habitat has been completed this month after extensive work was undertaken to bring back "globally rare" peatlands in south Wales.

The upland landscape situated between the Neath Port Talbot local authority area and the Rhondda.

Cynon Taf is said to have a wealth of natural assets which can have a big impact on climate change, and is considered as a globally rare habitat due to being among the most carbon-rich ecosystems on the planet.

The area of peatland known as Castell Nos Habitat, which was drained in the 1950s to make way for  commercially planted forestry, has now been re-wetted by Natural Resources Wales since the winter months, with funding from the National Lottery for its Lost Peatlands of South Wales Project.

When discussing the significance of the area, a council spokesperson said: “The upland landscape between Neath Port Talbot and Rhondda Cynon Taf has a wealth of natural assets which, if managed carefully, can have a big impact on human-induced climate change while also reversing biodiversity decline.

“Peatland management is one of the crucial tools in the world’s approach to achieving its carbon goals and for good reason. They are among the most carbon-rich ecosystems on Earth, storing around 25 per cent of total soil carbon while only occupying three per cent of the global land area.

“Peatlands in good condition act as a carbon sink, locking in vast amounts of carbon formed over millennia, and they can also reduce flood risk, improve water quality, support biodiversity and have a net cooling effect on climate."

They went on to describe how this land would be restored in the area, bringing it back to a near natural state, saying: “To restore these bog systems all that needs to be done is to ‘re-wet’ them by bringing the water level back to the surface.

“Once back to a near natural state, carbon will be locked in and the remarkable species that is sphagnum moss can once again spread and continue to create these unique wetlands.

“There are many ways to re-wet and restore bog systems or ‘mires’, with most techniques simply blocking drainage channels or areas of surface run-off.

“This can be done by physically putting in dams made of wood or metal/plastic piling, or preferably re-working the land to form dams or bunds made of peat itself.

“For the first project site up for restoration – Castell Nos Habitat Restoration Area, a series of small peat dams have been keyed into the existing drainage channels. This is already holding back water thus raising the water table.”

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Rhys Jones, who is the conservation land management team leader from Natural Resources Wales added: “We’re proud to deliver restoration on Castell Nos this year as part of the Lost Peatlands Project.

“The previously afforested land has served us well in its purpose as a managed forest which also provided a service to carbon sequestration, water management, cooling, and as habitat for local biodiversity.

”This work is funded through the National Lottery Heritage Fund and delivered in partnership between Neath Port Talbot and Rhondda Cynon Taf councils, Natural Resources Wales, Swansea University and Coed Lleol.”

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