Ten pioneering projects across the UK have been identified by a coalition of wildlife trusts to help nature recover from environmental damage, and in Wales, the project - backed by Sir David Attenborough - will restore a unique element of rural Wales known as ‘rhos pasture’.

The special habitat - a marshy grassland - is native to Wales and found only in a few areas of the country with Radnorshire being one of the most significant locations.

A lack of approriate management of the habitat over decades, has damaged the once rich landscape and depleted its biodiversity, and now it's time to make amends.

Made up of long tough grasses, rhos pasture traditionally provided cover for wading birds like snipe and curlew and  supported rare species of butterfly.

Through the project landowners will get advice on how to restore the pasture, and bring back the precious wildlife that once called it home. 

The National Wales: A small-pearl-bordered fritillary - one of the butterfly species that thrives in properly managed rhos pastureA small-pearl-bordered fritillary - one of the butterfly species that thrives in properly managed rhos pasture

Speaking about the effort to boost the recovery of nature and reverse declines, Sir David Attenborough, said that “if given a chance – nature is capable of extraordinary recovery”.

“The Wildlife Trusts’ campaign to secure 30 per cent of our land and sea for nature’s recovery by 2030, offers us the vision and level of ambition that is urgently needed to reverse the loss of nature, and so improve all our lives.”

A focus of the Radnorshire initiative is to bring back the almost extinct  'Marsh Fritillary' butterfly to the area. It will also carry out studies to find the best way of managing rhos pasture to inform it’s management across Wales.

The 95 year-old Sir David said that the UK was in special need of attention when it comes to reviving its natural environment:

“It’s tempting to assume that the loss of wildlife and wild places is a problem that’s happening on the other side of the world. The truth is that the UK is one of the most nature-depleted countries on the planet and the situation is getting worse.”

The Wildlife Trusts coalition has taken its lead from the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, which agreed that 30 per cent of the world’s land and seas should be protected in the next decade, to prevent the destruction of the planet’s biodiversity.

The Rhos pasture project is partly funded by the Welsh Government and by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.

Radnorshire Wildlife Trust say their project will benefit local farmers and landowners, as well as wildlife. Parallel to the environmental improvement tasks, arts and heritage projects will also be developed, asking local communities to share their memories of the rhos pasture, and how as a landscape it inspired them over the generations.


Viv Geen, project manager at RWT told The National:

"Rhos pasture not only supports a diverse range of wildlife including rare species of butterfly, but it also acts as an important 'carbon sink'.  There has been much discussion and publicity surrounding the importance of planting trees and climate change, but little is understood about the value of grasslands, particularly those with a peat-based carbon rich soil. 

"As part of the project, Radnorshire Wildlife Trust is campaigning for the ‘right tree in the right place’ - so that trees are not planted on inappropriate sites including valuable grassland such as rhos pasture.

"Rhos pasture is also important because it acts as a giant sponge retaining water and releasing it slowly into the surrounding environment.  This habitat has important water storage capacity thereby ‘slowing the flow’ and reducing flood risk downstream."

The Radnorshire Wildlife Trust is looking for volunteers to help with the project's ecological surveys and related arts and heritage activities. If you would like to get involved, or if you live in Radnorshire and have rhos pasture on your land, the Trust would love to hear from you. You never know, you might even get to meet Sir David.