Celebrated author backs mountain range campaign

Saturday 9th July 2022 8:00 am
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Cambrian Mountains
The campaign’s aim is to get the Cambrian Mountains designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (. )

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An award-winning journalist and writer has backed a campaign to protect the unique Cambrian Mountains landscape.

Neil Ansell, known for penning the acclaimed Deep Country: Five Years in the Welsh Hills, having lived alone in a remote cottage with no electricity, gas or running water, has joined the Cambrian Mountains Society’s campaign to have the region designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

During his time in the area, he grew to love the solitude, the unspoilt Cambrian Mountains landscape and the nature that surrounded him.

Mr Ansell said: “Having lived in the hills of Mid Wales, and written about the area’s fabulous wildlife and landscape, I am pleased to add my name to this campaign. It is a wonderful part of Wales that has long been undervalued and underappreciated and deserves to be protected for future generations.

“This upland landscape is of immense value to a number of specialist species, some of which are in jeopardy. The Cambrian Mountains have their own range of specialist plant and insect species, as well as being a valuable home to our declining breeding waders such as curlew, golden plover, and snipe.

“These uplands also include extensive areas of peat bog, itself a threatened habitat, which also happens to be an even better carbon sink than woodland.

“The area is also home to perhaps a greater range of birds of prey than anywhere else in Britain; perhaps the highest population density of ravens and buzzards, good numbers of peregrines and merlin, and more. And, of course, it is the remoteness of the area that preserved the red kite from being persecuted into extinction, and enabled it to be brought back from the brink.”

He added: “The area has an austere beauty; with a very low human population you can walk for hours alone through a landscape with open access and no fences or keep out signs, listening to the calls of the curlews and skylarks, before dropping into a valley filled with relic woodland and thick with life. The area, I think, deserves both protection and restoration.”

Neil joins TV naturalist, Iolo Williams, who has already lent his voice to the Cambrian Mountains Society’s campaign.

Lorna Brazell, secretary of the Cambrian Mountains Society, is delighted to have Neil Ansell join the campaign.

“It is a travesty that this special landscape, one of the true heartlands of the Welsh language and culture, has no protection whatsoever. People may find this hard to believe, but mid Wales is the only region in Wales without any protection for its iconic landscapes. And with changing patterns of farming and forestry, including ancient farms being bought up to be planted for so-called carbon offsetting, this unique space risks being eroded haphazardly.

“The need is clear: to think holistically to ensure this important resource is properly safeguarded for future generations to enjoy.”

The society is asking people to sign the Senedd petition to protect this landscape for the benefit of future generations at petitions.senedd.wales/petitions/24515

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