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Innovative river project to help wildlife and communities

Leaky dam in river

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) has started a project to boost wildlife and help reduce the risk of flooding in Mid-Wales.

Conifer trees are being used to make ‘leaky dams’ in upland areas on the Merin River, a tributary of the Rheidol which runs through the Myherin forest, near Devil’s Bridge.

The project, which is the first of its kind in the area, will slow the flow of the river.

After heavy rain the dams will divert water across the land while broadleaved trees and scrub will further reduce the speed of the water.

The works will create a paradise for wildlife and help to reduce the risk of flooding downstream.

Nick Young, Mid Wales Conservation and Heritage Manager for Natural Resources Wales, said:

“This project is exciting because it has so many benefits. It uses our natural resources in a way that benefits people and nature.

“The conifer trees growing along the river were shading everything out, so taking them away will help more native species grow.

“Building the dams will divert water across the land to create more natural meanders and a wetland habitat that could one day provide an excellent home for otters and water voles.

“It will slow down the rate of water entering the Rheidol from this catchment when we have a lot of rain.

“And the benefits don’t stop there because the woody debris from each dam will help feed insects and fish living in the river.”

NRW is building around 20 dams along the river, each one about a metre tall.

The land has been set aside for conservation purposes by NRW’s Forest Resource Plan for the area.

Wetlands are vital for the environment because they are home to a rich variety of plants and animals.

They can also store carbon that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere.

Nick Young added: “This is a great example of the benefits of having one organisation managing much of our natural environment.

“Myherin forest is largely managed for timber production, but by working together we are able to try innovative techniques like this that balance forestry with flood risk management, while benefiting wildlife and communities”

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