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Boost for Celtic rainforest restoration project

Words: Roger Milne
Forest / iStock-668923534

Endangered areas of Welsh woodland – known as the Celtic rainforest – are to benefit from an ambitious multimillion-pound project designed to restore the forests to their former glory and safeguard their conservation status.

The woodlands are considered important because of their mild, humid conditions, but are deteriorating, partly through bad management, the impact of invasive species like Rhododendron ponticum, the planting of conifers, and over and under-grazing by deer and sheep.

Funding from the European Union and the Welsh Government totalling £8.5 million will go to areas of woodland in Snowdonia, Cwm Einion, (the so-called Artists Valley in Ceredigion), Cwm Doethie in mid-Wales and the Elan Valley in Powys.

Celtic rainforests, which are mainly found in the UK, are considered of European importance owing to their open structure, which provides a perfect habitat for a wealth of vegetation.

The woodlands are currently in an unfavourable condition and getting worse. The spread of the Rhododendron ponticum is primarily responsible for the deterioration because it alters the soil condition, prevents sunlight from reaching the woodland floor and outcompetes and suppresses the regeneration of native vegetation.

The Snowdonia National Park Authority is leading the project on behalf of its partners, including RSPB Cymru, Natural Resources Wales, Welsh Water, the Woodland Trust and the National Trust.

Image credit | iStock