The Brecon Beacons National Park is calling for an end to illegal vehicle off-roading amid concern that it is undoing much of the Park’s valuable work in the fight against climate change.
The call coincides with a nationwide police campaign, as four forces come together to tackle illegal off-roading in an operation known as Taurus Cymru.
The Brecon Beacons is home to great swathes of peat bogs, which are vital for fighting climate change. These peatlands capture three times more carbon than trees, but they are under threat from illegal off-roading.
Vehicle tyres easily tear through the soft surface of bogs to reveal the bare peat beneath. Wet peat, covered in vegetation such as moss, will absorb carbon from the atmosphere. However, when peat is damaged and exposed, it begins to release carbon back into the air. It is vital that peatlands are maintained and stay free of damage if we are to tackle climate change effectively.
The National Park will spend over a million pounds in the next three years on peat restoration works, and this figure is set to increase considerably in recognition of the importance Welsh Government has placed on conserving peatlands. Sam Ridge, Peatland Officer for the National Park said, “We spend thousands of hours trying to restore eroded peatlands every year. Not only is peat one of the UK’s best weapons in the fight against climate change, it is also a vital habitat for wildlife. Our volunteers work tirelessly to restore damage to peat; it is devastating when we come across damage caused by illegal off-roading.”
It is a criminal offence to drive a motorised vehicle on common land without the landowner’s permission and there are very few legal routes for off-roading within the Park’s borders. People using off-road vehicles illegally can be subject to warning notices, prosecution or having their vehicle seized and sometimes destroyed when caught.
Chair of the Habitat group and Welsh Police Rural Crime Coordinator, Rob Taylor, said, “We have now planned several operations over the forthcoming months to address the issues and we want to work with the many interested parties to help us solve these issues and enable us to all move forward, so that our countryside in Wales remains a place of beauty and protected for our habitats and wildlife.”
For more information about peatland restoration in the Brecon Beacons please visit beacons-npa.gov.uk/environment/peatlands-and-uplands. To keep up with regular updates from Operation Taurus Cymru please visit twitter.com/CymruTaurus.