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Black Bog Neath Port Talbot Peatbog (c) Joey Pickard


Fens, bogs, springs and seepages

The State of Nature in Wetland in Neath Port Talbot

Lowland fen habitats in NPT support diverse communities of plants and animals and are generally well connected to other lowland wetland systems. However, their condition is poor in places with evidence of eutrophication and pollution and also problems with successional scrub encroachment and invasive non-native species, e.g. Rhododendron on Pant y Sais Fen and Sea Buckthorn in the marsh and fen habitats near Kenfig Marshalling Yards. Some upland wetland systems such as Gors Llwyn are in reasonable condition but the loss of other upland wetland habitats through neglect, afforestation, development and agricultural improvements has compromised their connectivity. Overall, wetland habitats in NPT are small, fragmented and not well connected.


In view all this, the resilience of wetlands as a whole in NPT is viewed as significantly less than good and, consequently, their state of nature has been assessed as poor.


NPT is fortunate to have a number of important wetland sites which added together support a fifth of the county’s priority species. Specific habitats in this category include fen, swamp, and ombrotrophic mires (bogs).


Fen habitats dominated by reeds and other tall graminoids are well represented in NPT with Crymlyn Bog (east of the Glan y Wern Canal) and Pant y Sais Fen being preeminent examples. Slender Cottongrass, a nationally rare Red Data Book species, is found at both sites along with a long list of other notables like Greater Spearwort, Least Bur-reed, Lesser Bulrush, Mares-tail, Marsh Cinquefoil, Mash Fern, Marsh Lousewort, Royal Fern, Saw-sedge and Yellow Loosestrife. Smaller areas of fen-like habitat occur in many places between Jersey Marine and Aberdulais which are connected by the Tennant Canal and large patches of Reed-dominated marshland also occur on and near the grazing marsh between Neath and Tonna and on Margam Moors. An interesting fragment of coastal fenland occurs in the vicinity of Kenfig Marshalling Yards, near Morfa. Cyperus Sedge, Round-headed Club-rush, Saw-sedge and Tubular Water-dropwort are found here, the latter at one of its few sites in South Wales. All these habitats are important for marshland birds such as Cetti’s Warbler, Grasshopper Warbler, Marsh Harrier, Reed Bunting, Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler and Water Rail as well as reptiles such as Grass Snake and Common Lizard. Insects are well represented too and particularly damselflies (e.g. Variable Damselfly) and dragonflies (e.g. Hairy Dragonfly). The population of Fen Raft Spider on the Tennant Canal between Crymlyn Bog, Pant y Sais and Red Jacket clearly benefits from the connectivity between fen and aquatic habitats here.

Large areas of ombrotrophic mire are uncommon in NPT, but parts of Gors Llwyn near Onllwyn have a raised bog structure. Tufted Sedge and Greater Tussock-sedge are conspicuous on this site, which also contains Marsh Lousewort, Marsh St John’s-wort and an interesting inland population of Marsh Helleborine. Swampy tall herb fen areas here and in ecologically connected habitats nearby have huge populations of Bogbean with Bottle-sedge, Water Horsetail and Yellow Loosestrife. Decades ago, in post-war years, Globe Flower also occurred on Gors Llwyn but it has not been seen in recent times. The lowland raised bog at Fforest Goch near Rhos is also notable for the range of wetland communities it contains, which includes a population of Bog Notchwort, a liverwort that is rare in South Wales. Smaller areas of flushed boggy ground are widespread in the moorland landscapes of the upper Dulais Valley and in the Gwrhyd area between Cwmllynfell and Rhyd-y-Fro where Greater Tussock-sedge, Many-stalked Spikerush, Marsh St John’s-wort and White Sedge are found.


During the last 70 years, extensive areas of upland habitat on deep peat in NPT have been ploughed, drained and planted with conifers. This has contributed to substantial losses of wetland habitat in the county, which now only represent 1% of the county's land area. However, some fragments of wetland habitat survive within plantations and projects aimed at recovering other lost peatlands are in progress.

Wetland Habitats Neath Port Talbot (c) NPT LNP / NPTC
Black Bog peatland NPT (c) Joey Pickard

Actions for the recovery of
Wetland habitats in NPT

Responsibility for these actions lie with all of us and as such, we have not sought to assign actions to particular organisations or groups. Instead, it is our hope that this document will provide the guidance and inspiration for anybody, or any group or organisation, to undertake the actions that are within their capability to deliver. The Secretariat of NPT LNP (NPT Council) are providing a facilitation role to support, collate and monitor work towards these actions. If you would like to discuss your potential involvement in delivery of these actions, please get in touch with

Spahgnum capillifolium black bog (c) Joey Pickard peatbog species NPT
Robin Bush Fen Raft Spider Pant y Sais NPT LNP


Water Voles were not an uncommon feature of wetland and aquatic habitats in NPT 60 years ago, but they have undergone a catastrophic decline in recent decades. Loss of habitat and predation by American Mink have probably played important roles in this. However, a significant Water Vole population has been discovered recently in wetland areas inside upland conifer plantations in the county. Peat bog habitat restoration projects are now incorporating management for water voles and monitoring the populations here. The video above shows a Water Vole caught on camera at Llyn Fach by The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales.


Sphagnum (also known as bog moss or peat moss) is a bryophyte genus which contains a number of species that are characteristic of wet areas including peatlands and flushes. The typical growth form of these important plants consist of branches, called fascicles, which are held in groups along the stem, and an active growing centre, called the capitulum, at the top. Sphagnum can absorb and hold many times its own dry weight in water and is the ecosystem engineer for peatland habitats.


This is the UK's largest spider and one of the rarest. This striking species reaches up to 23mm in body size and has a distinctive pale stripe along its flanks. These ferocious predators, which are capable of catching and eating stickleback fish, are found at very few sites in the UK, including the Tennant Canal near Jersey Marine. They are usually seen in summer, characteristically basking on floating and emergent vegetation. In some years they occur in relatively large numbers.

Wetland Projects in NPT



The ‘Lost Peatlands of South Wales’ project is delivered by the Lost Peatlands Partnership comprising NPT Council (Lead), RCT Council, NRW, Swansea University and Coed Lleol (Small Woods). The project is providing an exciting programme of environmental improvements and community activities between 2021 and 2025.


Once referred to as the ‘Alps of Glamorgan’, the upland area between NPT and RCT in the South Wales Valleys was historically an open moorland landscape of boggy peatland. Today, commercial forestry plantations and renewable energy wind farms are a defining feature of this landscape, but large pockets of peat remain. Peat is invaluable in terms of water storage, carbon storage and as a wildlife habitat. The conservation of peatlands is a critical factor in climate change mitigation and the reversal of biodiversity losses.


The main aim of the Lost Peatland Project is to restore and manage more than 490 hectares of this historic landscape and habitats, including heathland, grassland and native woodland. One particular focus will be the direct restoration of 256 hectares of previously afforested peat bogs and pools. Habitat improvements will encourage many local wildlife species currently in decline to thrive again. These include birds like the Skylark and Nightjar; invertebrates like the Dark Green Fritillary and Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary butterflies; and mammals, including the elusive Water Vole.

Peat restoration works will be closely monitored and will inform important ongoing research by Swansea University to guide best practice restoration techniques and to understand impacts on biodiversity, water quality and CO2 emissions. Access to this remarkably wild landscape will also be made easier through improved, guided footpaths and interpretation.


As part of the project, local people will also be able to experience, learn about and get involved with the heritage on their doorstep through a variety of free activities, events, schools outdoor learning programmes and volunteering opportunities. People will be able to gain new outdoor skills and knowledge via dedicated training programmes. Families and adults will also be able to join or be referred to the project’s health and wellbeing activity programmes.

Peatbog restoration for climate change (c) Lost Peatlands
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