11/06/2015
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Long-term future secured for Lake Vyrnwy

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RSPB Cymru has today announced that the long-term future of the Lake Vyrnwy estate farm in Powys, mid-Wales, has been secured.

In April, landowner Severn Trent Water (STW) granted a long-term Farm Business Tenancy lease of Ty-Llwyd Farm to RSPB Cymru. Made up of approximately 12,000 acres of upland farm, moor and blanket bog within the Lake Vyrnwy estate, Ty-Llwyd Farm is the largest organic farm in England and Wales. The land and surrounding area is important for birds, beetles and moths as well as storing carbon in its blanket bog and the provision of drinking water to Liverpool from the lake itself.

This important agreement will mean more investment in the farm from all stakeholders. It will also mean that RSPB Cymru will have more control over the farming business, allowing the charity to make decisions, working with Natural Resources Wales, to develop a more sustainable grazing and farming model over time.

Katie-jo Luxton, RSPB Cymru Director explained: "Vyrnwy and the surrounding area is home to characteristic and threatened birds such as Curlew, Golden Plover, Red and Black Grouse, Hen Harrier, Merlin, Peregrine, Red Kite and Short-eared Owl. For over 30 years we've been working with the local community and organisations to manage this special place for wildlife and people, and we are absolutely delighted with this announcement."

Black Grouse
Britain's most southerlyBlack Grouse occur at Lake Vyrnwy (Photo: Marek Szczepanek)

Tim Jones, Executive Director Operations North and Mid Wales, Natural Resources Wales, added: "This is great news for this fantastic part of Wales and for this resource that needs our protection. Habitats like this provide so much for us as well as being a beautiful place to visit. It is also a habitat we have to look after and improve for the range of wildlife that calls it home. We look forward to continuing to work closely with RSPB Cymru and Severn Trent Water in Lake Vyrnwy."

The moorland is part of this exceptionally high quality habitat at Lake Vyrnwy, and holds the most southerly populations of Black Grouse and Cloudberry (Rubus chamaemorus) as well as other exciting flora including Lesser Twayblade (Neottia cordata). The area is home to one of Britain rarest ground beetles (Trechus rivularis) which has recently been found at Lake Vyrnwy in numbers greater than the rest of Britain put together, making Lake Vyrnwy by far the most important site in Britain for this IUCN Red List species. Colonies of Welsh Clearwing moth (Synanthedon scoliaeformis) are also found at Vyrnwy, this being the strongest of only three populations in Wales.

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Lesser Twayblade, one of Britain's smallest and most beautiful orchids, grows at Lake Vyrnwy (Photo: Josh Jones)

The blanket bog is also an important habitat, and when in good condition acts as both a sponge for water and a carbon store. Restoring and managing Welsh blanket bogs so that they are able to store carbon effectively is an important part of the RSPB's work at Lake Vyrnwy.

As well as the abundant wildlife, providing clean water and carbon storage, Vyrnwy is an extremely popular place in which to enjoy the outdoors, and the area attracts in the region of 250,000 visitors per year.

Ms Luxton added: "We'll work in partnership with others to maintain and improve the conservation value, visitor experience, landscape and provide opportunities for local employment, and ensure this beautiful landscape remains looked after for wildlife to live and thrive, and future generations to enjoy."

Lake Vyrnwy is one of the most important areas for wildlife and nature in Wales and this importance has earned it the highest levels of designation, including Special Protection Area (SPA), Special Area of Conservation (SAC), National Nature Reserve (NNR) and a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). These designations give the area the strictest legal obligations to maintain and enhance its natural heritage.

Written by: RSPB