National Park calls on help from the skies above

National Park Wardens have undertaken a herculean task this month among the snowy peaks of the Brecon Beacons National Park battling the weather to preserve eroded peat bogs and footpaths.  By the end of the project over 910 tonnes of stone along with 300 enormous bags of heather brash, jute and heather bales will have been transported onto the mountain tops of the Central Beacons and Black Mountains range. For a task like this, the wardens call on help from the skies above in the form of a helicopter.

A helicopter airlifts materials to repair footpaths onto Fan y Big, one of the peaks in the central Beacons - photo credit - Sam Harpur

A helicopter airlifts materials to repair footpaths onto Fan y Big, one of the peaks in the central Beacons – photo credit – Sam Harpur

Weather permitting, the helicopter makes repeated trips to inaccessible locations across the park laden with bags full of materials. Thanks to funding from the Welsh Government, Honourable Artillery Company and the National Park Authority, Fan y Big in the Central Beacons will have 120 tonnes of stone airlifted to improve the path and help protect surrounding vegetation along one of the most used walking routes in the park.

Waun Fach, one of the more remote locations will have further work done on footpaths to protect the surrounding damaged peat bogs from more erosion. Heather jute and bales are used to patch up the peat bogs and slow the rate at which water is released into the water course. Peat plays a vital role in water management in the National Park as Paul Sinnadurai, Brecon Beacons National Park Authority Conservation Manager explains, “Peat bogs are natural water and carbon stores and erosion to these leads to flooding issues and contributes to the increase in greenhouse gas emissions. The work that is currently being carried out on Waun Fach is funded by the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority, the Welsh Government and Welsh Water and will help restore the unique and diverse landscape and improve conditions for all users of this fragile habitat.”

On Hay Bluff in the Black Mountains, the Welsh Government’s Rights Of Way Improvement Plan grant has provided funding to carry out  improvement to the popular circular walk from the standing stones car park. Further along the mountain range on Hatterall Ridge where the surface of Offa’s Dyke Path needs repairing, work has been made possible with funding from Natural Resource Wales and Natural England.

Ian Rowat, Brecon Beacons National Park Authority Member Champion for Biodiversity and Environment added; “This crucial work is made possible through grant funding from a variety of different sources and through working closely with the Black Mountains Graziers Association. We hope that visitors to the park recognise that the importance of this work to what is a not only a wonderful recreation asset but also a working environment is economically important in terms of both farming and tourism. The whole project is a great example of partnerships working to protect and improve the condition of the landscape around us now and through long-term land management. As a member of the National Park Authority and someone who has worked in countryside management I would also like to thank all those who are out in all weathers completing the work’.

On the ground a team of Brecon Beacons National Park Authority Wardens, National Park Upland Path Volunteers and local contractors are battling with snow and ice to carry out the work before the ground nesting bird season starts in the spring. Volunteers will then maintain the paths throughout the year to minimise further erosion of the popular walking routes.

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Notes to Editors

Photograph © Sam Harpur, Brecon Beacons National Park Authority