Active blanket bog in Wales - Restoring active blanket bog in the Berwyn and Migneint SACs in Wales

LIFE06 NAT/UK/000134

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Contact details:

Project Manager: Jared WILSON
Tel: +44 1691 870939
Fax: +44 1767 685625
Email: gorgorscymru@rspb.org.uk

Project description:


The project focused on the Berwyn and South Clwyd Mountains SAC and the Migneint-Arenig-Dduallt SAC, which are two of the most important SACs for blanket bog in the UK. Most of the former site and the entirety of the latter site are also designated as SPAs for their breeding upland bird populations.

Some of the blanket bog within the project SACs is managed within the RSPB’s Lake Vyrnwy Reserve but most is managed by private farmers in ways that are detrimental to its conservation status. As a result, much of the blanket bog within the SACs is in an unfavourable condition. The direct and indirect effects of the digging of numerous drainage ditches in and around the blanket bog in the 1920s and 1930s for agricultural purposes has had a particularly adverse impact on the bogs. Extensive areas of blanket bog and other habitats in the Berwyn and Migneint uplands were also planted with Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) in the 1970s and substantial areas have been invaded by rhododendron (Rhododendron ponticum) and spruce seedlings.

On the remaining areas of blanket bog, heather (Calluna vulgaris) has been lost due to over-grazing, inappropriate burning management and uncontrolled fires. The bog habitat may also be threatened by climate change, which is likely to lead to wetter winters (with increased erosion problems) and drier summers (which may be unsuitable for some bog plants).


The purpose of the project was to bring about a significant and sustained improvement in the condition of blanket bog in key parts of two SACs in Wales, and to catalyse complementary work elsewhere in these SACs and beyond. All of the blanket bog targeted by the project was either active at the start of the project or would be returned to an active state through the project actions.

Specific actions would include:

  • Practical restoration and conservation over 5 039 ha of the Berwyn and South Clwyd Mountains SAC, benefiting 2 955 ha of blanket bog within the SAC.
  • Practical restoration and conservation over 440 ha of the Migneint-Arenig-Dduallt SAC, benefiting 274 ha of blanket bog within this SAC.
  • Extensive advocacy and advisory work aimed at local land managers, local communities in general, and groups involved in the conservation of blanket bog elsewhere in Wales, the rest of the UK and Europe.


The Active Blanket Bog Wales (ABBW) project was a very well managed project that achieved outstanding results. All of the core targets have been surpassed, in some cases by quite a distance. In terms of habitat restoration, 485km of drains were blocked, almost 35ha of plantation forests removed, and regenerating non-native species removed from almost 500ha.

The project actively engaged with the local community, particularly the local farmers who were extremely sceptical of the re-wetting of the bogs. The project made extensive use of local contractors, providing considerable employment and economic benefits to the area. Using the same contractors was a contributing factor to the project being able to exceed their targets, as the knowledge gained in the early stages of the project meant progress was much quicker in the later stages. Furthermore, by utilising local labour, the skills involved in bog habitat restoration and, in particular, blocking drains remains in the local area.

The work carried out by the project led to the publication of five scientific papers by the end of the project, which greatly added to the knowledge surrounding bog habitat restoration. Furthermore, through the engagement with the farming community, in the final year of the project, a further ten farmers invited the project organisers to block drains on their land, therefore allowing the project to carry out work on areas outside of the original target area. Moreover, the project managed to ensure that the management of bog habitat was included in the next agri-environment scheme for Wales, starting in 2013.

However, the project did encounter difficulties. Engagement with the local community took much longer than had been anticipated. This was partly due to scepticism of the techniques, and the possible negative impacts of the project. This could only be addressed once work had begun and the project staff could demonstrate the beneficial results of the actions. Therefore, the beneficiary focused much more on this action in the second half of the project.

The project won recognition at the IUCN UK Peatland Programme’s competition 2010 and was awarded the 'Learning Outside the Classroom Quality Badge “Outstanding” award'.

Further information on the project can be found in the project's layman report(see "Read more" section).


Environmental issues addressed:


Habitats - Bogs and Mires


restoration measure‚  protected area

Target Habitat types

  • 7130 - Blanket bogs (* if active bog)

Natura 2000 sites

SCI UK0012926 Berwyn a Mynyddoedd de Clwyd/ Berwyn and South Clwyd Mountains
SCI UK0030205 Migneint-Arenig-Dduallt



Coordinator The Royal Society fot the Protection of Birds
Type of organisation NGO-Foundation
Description The RSPB champions the conservation of birds and other biodiversity in the UK and worldwide, for wildlife, the environment and people. The RSPB works with other bird and habitat conservation organisations in a global partnership called BirdLife International. Its international vision is to maintain the numbers, diversity and geographic distribution of the world's most important sites, species and habitats. The RSPB is a fully independent charity (registered in the UK), and currently has 1,680 employees. In 2004/5, it had a turnover of approximately €108 million.
Partners Countryside Council for Wales, United Kingdom Forestry Commission, United Kingdom


Project reference LIFE06 NAT/UK/000134
Duration 01-AUG-2006 to 31-MAR -2011
Total budget 3,765,394.00 €
EU contribution 2,824,046.00 €
Project location Wales(United Kingdom)


Read more:

Leaflet Leaflet
Leaflet: Guidelines-Manual "Grip blocking advisory leaflet"
Newsletter: Article-Paper Active blanket bog in Wales Newsletter n°5 (Round- ...
Newsletter: Article-Paper Active blanket bog in Wales Newsletter n°1
Newsletter: Article-Paper Active blanket bog in Wales Newsletter n°2
Project web site Project's website
Publication: Case study "Active Blanket Bog in Wales" (7 MB)
Publication: Layman report Layman report
Publication: Technical report Final Technical Report


Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version