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Welsh Peatland Sustainable Management Scheme Project

View of the bleak landscape of Abergwesyn Common, Powys in Wales
Abergwesyn Common, Powys | © National Trust Images/Paul Harris

Peatlands in the UK may be under threat but in Wales they’re being given the chance of recovery due to work carried out by a Welsh Peatland Project. Learn more about how the project’s plans for Abergwesyn Commons could lead to it becoming a national hub for research.

Aims of the project

The Welsh Peatland Sustainable Management Scheme (SMS) Project is a large partnership project being delivered by a range of organisations across Wales. Our main aims are to help deliver the Welsh Government’s 2020 target of bringing peatlands into sustainable management as well as raising awareness of the importance of peat bogs by equipping communities with the knowledge and skills to maintain and look after peatlands.

A hub for research

This project showcases the Peatland Code across the UK which is a voluntary standard for UK peatland projects wishing to promote the climate benefit of peatland restoration. We hope the project becomes a national hub for research on peatlands so the information can be shared with communities and researchers through a range of awareness events, guided walks & talks.

The Importance of peat

There are four main reasons why peatlands are so important; biodiversity, carbon storage, historical value as well as water quality and quantity.

Peatlands form a unique habitat that supports a variety of plant species as well as insects, birds and mammals. Many at risk species, such as curlew and golden plover, call peatlands home.

Golden plover, adult on moorland grass
Many at risk species, such as curlew and golden plover, call peatlands home | © National Trust Images/Dougie Holden

Carbon stores

Peat bogs are also a huge store of carbon as the plants that grow there are not able to decompose completely, meaning the carbon in the plants becomes locked in the peat.

Did you know that peatlands only cover around 3 per cent of the world’s surface but contain more carbon than all the world’s rainforests? Out of the total coverage of peat found in the world, 12 per cent is found in the UK with an estimated 173,000 acres of upland blanket bog in Wales.

Peatlands are also one of the UK’s most important terrestrial carbon stores containing 20 times more carbon than the total number of UK forests.

Window into the past

Peatlands can provide a window to the past and have been known to perfectly preserve artefacts, such as tools and clothing, from thousands of years ago. In addition to this, the hydrological cycle is also affected by the condition of our peatlands.

Much of the water we drink has drained off upland peatlands and is naturally filtered by the peat. They also have a role in flood prevention; a healthy peatland can hold much more water than one actively eroding and so can limit flood damage further downstream.

Land at Abergwesyn Common

Abergwesyn Common has been looked after by the National Trust since 1984 and lies in the heart of the Cambrian Mountains in Powys.

At 16,500 acres, this group of commons is one of the largest blocks of National Trust land in Wales with around 32 per cent designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and Special Protection Area (SPA).

Although the remaining 68 per cent is non-designated, approximately 20 per cent of that could be classed as priority habitat including modified blanket bog, mires and heathland making this a significant area for our restoration work.

Close-up of red kite in fight over Watlington Hill


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