Meet the bog-trotting superstars helping to restore valuable heath and bog habitat in Monmouthshire - Natural Resources Wales

An exciting new restoration project between Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) will help to restore valuable heath and bog habitats in Monmouthshire, south Wales.

Cleddon Bog, a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Beacon Hill in the Wye Valley, provide a valuable habitat for a range of wildlife and rare plants and require careful management to prevent scrub from taking over the land.

As part of the vital work to restore the habitat at both sites, four Belted Galloway cattle – named Ringo, Penguin, Ginger and Oak are being brought in to graze the land, which will help to restore the rare habitats by opening up the bog and heathland landscapes for wildlife.

The site at Beacon hill is a nationally important lowland heathland and one that supports a range of increasingly rare and vulnerable wildlife, including heathers, Bilberry, Heath Bedstraw, Eyebright and Lousewort.

It is also home to the secretive Nightjar that can be seen and heard on the heathland during the spring and summer months. It requires active management to keep the scrubby vegetation such as bracken, bramble and birch from encroaching, leading to the loss of this valuable habitat.

Areas of the heathland have been cleared over the past few years and introducing grazing to the site is an important part of the positive management of a diverse heathland habitat.

Grazing with cattle is an important management tool as they selectively graze the heathland plants and browse some of the invading birch scrub, helping to maintain a healthy balance between the habitat types.

Cleddon Bog is home to a number of unusual plant species, including bog asphodel and round-leaved sundew, a carnivorous, insect eating plant. The bog also supports a number of insects, which make perfect dining for species like bats.

As a peat bog, it helps to play a vital role in tackling climate change by locking away carbon as well as helping to regulate flood flows for the local community. Over the last 20 years, the water levels at the bog have dropped, and plants that prefer drier conditions, such as purple moor grass and birch have become more dominant, speeding up the drying process.

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Posted On: 06/04/2023

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