Peatlands restoration project contributes millions to the Welsh economy
A new report has revealed the positive economic impact of a project restoring peatlands at seven sites across Wales.
The independent report was commissioned to assess the economic and social impact of Natural Resources Wales’ (NRW) EU LIFE funded LIFE Welsh Raised Bogs project which started in 2018.
The report shows that the project has boosted the Welsh economy by millions and contributed significant social benefits to local communities since launching.
Since 2018, the project has created 23 fulltime equivalent (FTE) job years within NRW, contributing £229,000 annually, on average, to Wales’s economy over the last four years.
With the extension of the project until 2024, it is forecast to contribute over £3.85 million to the Welsh economy, with the creation of 94 FTE job years.
Non-staff expenditure has totalled £2.02 million, including spending on contractors, infrastructure, and equipment to deliver the project objectives of habitat restoration, monitoring, and public engagement.
Of this total over £1.24 million (61%) was spent inside Wales, including £652,000 (32%) being spent in the local economy (within 10 miles of a project site).
This expenditure has created a further 13.2 FTE job years in Wales as a result of employment by contractors and other suppliers to the project.
Jake White LIFE Welsh Raised Bogs project manager said “We are very pleased with the results of this study and are grateful to everyone who took part. Our project has many and varied impacts, the majority focus on improving the habitats, but to also understand the socio-economic impact of our work is fascinating.”
“The report also contains case studies which show that the project has helped individuals forge new careers in Wales and encouraged Welsh businesses to invest in the future of peatland restoration.”
The social impacts of the project were measured through online and in-person surveys open to the public and phone conversations with specific key stakeholders, such as landowners.
60% of those questioned reporting a noticeable impact on their awareness of the project sites and their varied importance, with 80% of respondents reported noticing personal benefits from visiting the project sites.
The most common benefits reported were an improved knowledge and understanding of raised bogs, their history and wildlife, and an improved appreciation for the value of peatlands.
This was followed by an increased connection to their local area, and pride over their local nature reserve. 50% of respondents also reported both improved fitness and mental health.
Half of respondents reported seeing improved education and learning opportunities regarding peatlands, and their conservation value. Whilst 40% of respondents also reported an increased use of the project sites by local people for recreation.
This was particularly evident at larger sites such as Cors Caron National Nature Reserve (NNR) and Cors Fochno which is part of the Dyfi NNR where the majority of the work has been concentrated.
These responses suggest that there are a variety of social benefits from the project.
Similarly, 100% of respondents believed that the raised bogs were an important part of the landscape, with 69% of respondents having visited either Cors Caron or Cors Fochno in the six months prior to the survey. 42% of these were inspired to visit as a result of the project’s influence.
The majority of the contractor expenditure (65%) took place at Cors Caron NNR, with a further 20% at Cors Fochno. The remainder was spread over the five other sites involved in the project.
A summary of the report is available here……
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