The skies above the Black Mountains have been a hive of activity this autumn as a helicopter carried out over 750 airlifts of stone, jute and timber. The helicopter provided the power to lift around 800 tonnes of raw materials to locations including Darren Lwyd, Waun Fach and Rhos Dirion which are then used to carry out repairs to eroded footpaths and peat bogs.
The Black Mountain Land Use Partnership identified the locations as priority sites to receive funding from the recent award of grant funding to the SMS project. One of the main aims of the partnership is to restore peatland and encourage heather regeneration, both being crucial to the environment of the Black Mountains which is a SSSI. Peat plays a vital role in water management and is a natural carbon store. Erosion to peatbogs leads to flooding and contributes to the increase in greenhouse gas emissions. Heather is an important habitat for ground nesting birds and a wide range of other animals and insects.
The mountain range’s peatland habitats are in urgent need of restoration including the badly damaged Southern Scar, one of the most eroded peat sites in Wales. Heather, jute and wool are used to patch up the peat bogs and slow the rate at which water is released into the water course. Further funding comes from partners Natural England and Natural Resources Wales. On Waun Fach, the highest point in the Black Mountains, peat restoration works originally started by the Welsh Government Nature Fund aim to be completed under the project.
The photographs show the airlifts taking place on the gospel pass, transporting heavy materials onto various sites. The others below show contractors building paths on Darren Lwyd which will then be maintained by the National Park Upland Volunteers. Maintenance of good, clear footpaths contribute to the protection of the peatland. And the third is of Upland Volunteers working on heather and vegetation regeneration, putting in dams and laying jute onto which heather brash will be placed.