A 101-year-old woman from Conwy celebrated her birthday by raising £101 through challenging visitors to solve a coded message at the RSPB Conwy reserve.
Mrs Ryland- who has been a regular visitor to the RSPB Conwy reserve for many years- raised the money by getting people to give 50p for each attempt to solve the coded message. The first correct guess would get the prize money, some of which had been donated by Mrs Ryland’s family.
The eventual winner Sue Cook and her son Max were invited to meet Mrs Ryland and share some of her 101 Dalmatians birthday cake in the coffee shop at the reserve. As the prize money was awarded, they said that they wished to donate the prize money to support the work of the RSPB at Conwy.
Mrs Cook said: “We enjoyed the amazing birdlife so much on our visit here, that we decided the best place for the money was the reserve itself, its a beautiful place!”
Helen Jowett, Visitor Experience Manager for RSPB Conwy, said ‘Mrs Ryland’s 101st birthday is a very special occasion, and it has been made even more memorable with the kindness shown both by the family of Mrs Ryland in their fundraising for the reserve and by the winners of the code breaker deciding to donate the prize money to the RSPB reserve. I would like to thank everyone involved, and look forward to seeing Mrs Ryland on her regular visits to the RSPB Coffee shop.’
The Welsh Government’s announcement that it planned to proceed with the M4 Relief Road south of Newport came just a matter of days after its flagship sustainable development legislation, the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Bill, was formally laid in the National Assembly (7 July 2014). Sadly, the fundamental idea behind the Bill was challenged by the Government itself, therefore, even before the Bill had been enacted, and thus immediately brought into question its credibility.
The Bill, due to be approved by the Welsh Assembly next spring, will require public sector bodies in Wales, such as councils, hospitals, universities – and the Welsh Government itself – to plan and deliver ‘well-being’ for our children and grandchildren. Well-being’ means having the basic needs of each and every one of us met, but fairly and within the resource capacity of the planet – sustainable development. This should be good news for us – but what about animals and plants – will they benefit too from this new law?
The State of Nature report showed us that 60 per cent of more than 3000 assessed species across the UK have declined in recent decades – will the prospects for the future be any better if the FG Bill is approved?
The short answer is that we don’t know. But one of six goals in the FG Bill aims at a ‘biodiverse natural environment with healthy functioning ecosystems’, which basically should mean wildlife that has recovered and been restored. We shall be carefully examining the Bill over the coming months to assess whether it could do more to deliver for wildlife in Wales.
The Welsh Government is also committed to introducing an Environment Bill in the spring of 2015 and RSPB Cymru is seeking a commitment in this Bill for a target to drive wildlife recovery. But wildlife will not recover and thrive unless we make changes to our daily lives – like reducing the fossil fuel energy we generate and consume. We need to be more careful and have more regard towards future generations, both of ourselves and of all other life with which we share the planet.
There is a long way to go before we are living in harmony with nature in a sustainable world. However, the Bill creates at least the potential to deliver a more sustainable future for both wildlife and the people of Wales.
We shall continue to work constructively with decision-makers in Wales to put into law an Act that will truly meet the needs of future generations and wildlife. Succeeding generations will not thank us for destroying the wildlife inheritance that they have a right to expect, and we can only do this by changing the ways we live, work and think today. We can do it – and this Bill is a start!
If you want to read more about this Bill, please go to: http://www.assemblywales.org/bus-home/bus-business-fourth-assembly-laid-docs/pri-ld9831-e.pdf?langoption=3&ttl=PRI-LD9831%20-%20Well-being%20of%20Future%20Generations%20%28Wales%29%20Bill
A new film that has been produced and filmed by RSPB Cymru shows how restoring Wales’ extensive peat bogs can help benefit wildlife and improve the quality of our environment by reducing flood risk and helping fight climate change by locking up atmospheric carbon. It also appears that farmers will lose less sheep, which can become trapped in the drainage ditches.
Many people see peat bogs as soggy barren places where you get stuck and lose your wellington boot in, or where archaeologists dig up the occasional perfectly preserved four thousand year old body! The closest many of us will get to a peat bog is picking up the bagged up stuff at our local garden centre to pot plants! (This is not recommended there are plenty of ecologically friendly peat free compost alternatives)
But peat bogs have been getting a rather lot of publicity lately. Last month a peat bog over six times the size of wales was discovered in the Congo. In recognition of the value of Welsh peat bogs, Alun Davies AM and former Minister for Natural Resources and Food recently announced the welsh governments ambitious plan to bring ‘ all welsh peatlands in to restoration management within 7 years’. And Wales has a lot of peat bog! An estimated 70,000 hectares of upland blanket bog scattered all the way from Snowdonia to Pembrokeshire and the South Wales Valleys. Although much of this is not in its pristine natural wet condition due to historic drainage and burning aimed at improving land for agriculture and post war afforestation.
So what exactly is Peat and why is it suddenly the coolest thing in town? Well peat is waterlogged soil, made up partially decomposed vegetation, mostly Sphagnum moss. Over the thousands of years that vegetation has been growing and compacting at a rate of a miniscule 0.5-1mm a year. It doesn’t sound like much but over millennia many Welsh, peat bogs have become 4-6 metres deep some even more. As the bog grows and the moss partially decompose to form peat it draws in that all important climate change gas Carbon dioxide and stores it as Carbon within the peat. And it’s incredibly efficient at doing that. Here are some mind blowing stats that you may not be aware of!
Although peatlands only cover around 3 percent of the world’s surface they contain more carbon than all the worlds rainforests. Peatlands are the UKs single most important terrestrial carbon store containing 20 times more carbon than all UK forests. In Wales nine times more Carbon is stored in peat than in all vegetation. And one last one. Although Britain is a very small island it does in fact contain an amazing 13% of the world’s upland blanket bog.
So just like cutting down rainforests releases carbon dioxide in to the atmosphere draining and drying out peat bogs does the same. It is estimated that those drained and damaged peat bogs in the UK currently pump out 3.7 million tons of carbon dioxide a year that’s equivalent to the average emissions of 660,000 households ( that’s all the houses of Edinburgh Cardiff and Leeds combined!)
However- and this is the true value and potential of peatlands- unlike rainforests who take decades to restore, damaged peatlands can be returned through filling in drainage ditches with a digger to a functioning peat bog that is drawing in carbon in in matter of years. Indeed on average healthy peat bogs removes between 30-70 tons of Carbon per Km2 from the atmosphere annually. And not only that, making damaged bogs healthy again is relatively cheap. With rain fed blanket bogs blocking up the drainage ditches is highly cost effective. An experienced digger operator can put in a dam in quite a short space of time and you can quite quickly rewet a hectare of Peat bog.
So there is no doubt that restoring peatlands presents a massive opportunity to both the Welsh and UK government in helping meet their binding targets of reducing carbon emissions by 40% and 34% respectively form their 1990 level by 2020.
However, this is not the only benefit of Peatland restoration. For example 70% of our drinking water in the UK comes from upland areas, and it is vital that peat bogs are in good condition so that the water we drink is good quality and costs are kept low for customers.
Appropriately manged, restoring peat bogs can also provide habitat for some of Wales’s most endangered species like the curlew and the golden plover, which were once common in Wales but have seen a massive decrease in recent decades. The Golden Plover for example has seen more than 80% reduction in its numbers in recent decades in many areas. Furthermore there is increasing evidence that retaining water in upland areas will reduce flooding in lowland valleys.
Indeed one of the most important elements to consider when restoring peatland is no doubt the people who live and work in these upland areas. The vast majority of welsh uplands are farmed in some way and although some farmers are yet to be convinced that peatlands restoration will directly benefit their businesses some farmers like Glyn Roberts -who farms in the Migneit area of North wales- believes that the farming community should support the work for wider environmental reasons “At the moment I’m neutral on this” Mr Roberts said, “ but we as an industry have an obligation to do everything that we can to mitigate as much as we can against global warming and in this context I think it’s a good thing”.
The film looks at a partnership project between rspb Cymru, Dwr Cymru /welsh water, The National Trust, Snowdonia National Park, and natural Resources Wales funded by the welsh Government. the project involved work carried out on 485 hectares of peat bog across North Wales. In recent years been far larger Peatland restoration projects carried out, like the EU funded Active blanket bog in Wales project where 7,200 hectares of Peatland was rewetted in mid Wales and north Wales. It will be interesting to see in the next few years whether we will see more projects like this and whether the Welsh governments ambitious and admirable aim of bringing ‘all welsh peatlands in to restoration management within 7 years’will be fulfilled.
In the meantime if you ever find yourself walking across or maybe getting your wellie stuck in a squelchy bog in some of Wales’ spectacular upland areas stop and consider for a moment that the ground your standing on was not so long ago seen as a barren landscape with little value, but is now quite possibly one of the most important landscape in Europe and the world and may just hold the key to our and our children’s future.
If you want to view the film in English click on the English version below or just type in REF Peatland film in to YouTube. If you want to view in Welsh click on the welsh version below or just type in film Adfer mawndir in to YouTube. If your at the Royal Welsh Show this year, the film will be showing at the RSPB Cymru stand in the Countryside Care area from 3pm Monday 21st July until the end of the Show on Thursday 24th July