Case Study 5: Woollen Line on Pen Trumau
During summer 1976, fires destroyed an area of blanket bog opposite the ‘Dragon’s Back’ in the Brecon Beacons National Park. The loss of bog vegetation has led to erosion of peat bogs in this area, made worse by the continued use of the area for grazing. The Woollen Line project, developed by local artist and conservationist Pip Woolf, demonstrates how peat bog restoration can be effective, when using locally sourced materials.
Geotextiles used to remediate erosion damage are traditionally manufactured from jute, a material imported from across the world. However, in an effort to be more sustainable, this project has opted to use locally sourced wool as an alternative geotextile. Presently wool has little economic value for upland farmers, however Pip Woolf suggests that its use as a conservation textile might help change this situation.
How the project is funded
The British Wool Marketing Board agreed to supply a bale of 350 kg of grey wool as part of a pilot study. Working with volunteers through the winter, wool was weaved into felt incorporating grass and heather seeds.
Over the course of the project, additional small grants have been secured from: Arts Council of Wales, Brecknock Museum Arts Fund, Brecon Beacons National Park Community and Conservation Fund, the Biodiversity Grant Fund, the Brecon Beacons Park Society, Glasu, the Welsh Government and the Brecon Beacons Trust.
Woollen lines have been installed extensively across the peat to begin restoration and prevent future erosion. Some pilot experiments indicate that exclusion of grazing from damaged bog areas may be required to ensure restoration. Using waste wool for ecosystem restoration may provide an alternative income or reduced expense for farmers, should they require peat restoration projects for their land.
Woollen lines continue to be installed on a yearly basis through volunteer work. As this is a volunteer driven project, no formal monitoring programme has been installed. However, some anecdotal evidence has been collected: before installation the area had been bare for 30 years, one to two years after installation some vegetative restoration has occurred. Pip Woolf suggests that full restoration of blanket bog is likely to occur over a far longer time period.