TV celebrity launches rainforest funds drive.
Byline: Sally Williams Farming Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
CELEBRITY wildlife broadcaster Iolo Williams is today launching a campaign to raise PS750,000 to protect an important slice of Wales' primeval Celtic rainforest more rare than its famous tropical counterparts.
While most people have heard of the plight of tropical rainforests that have lost species and indigenous cultures after decades of logging, fewer people have heard of the much rarer coniferous and broadleaf temperate rainforests of Wales - the Meirionnydd Oakwoods.
This unpolluted moisture-laden habitat is rarer around the globe than tropical rainforest and is in remnant form because most of Wales has been farmed for around 4,000 years, since the end of the last Ice Age.
This jungly habitat originally covered most of the Atlantic fringe of Europe from northern Scotland to Portugal, and is part of the Celtic Rainforest of Western Britain and Ireland.
And now the Woodland Trust, or Coed Cadw, aims to purchase and protect 550 acres of this ancient woodland, pasture and heathland at Llandecwyn, in the Snowdonia National Park, in North Wales.
Iolo said: "Its western location and elevation make it quite literally a rainforest and one which needs very special care.
"I'm delighted that the trust intends to make use of the site as a demonstration project to show the many practical benefits that native trees, in the right place, can offer to the farmer."
He said Llennyrch lies to the south of Coed Felinrhyd, a wood already in the care of the trust, and adjoins two National Nature Reserves.
The woods on both sides of the gorge at Ceunant Llennyrch boast more than 200 species of moss and liverworts that thrive in the very humid conditions created by a mountain river flowing through a spectacular wooded gorge with many waterfalls.
It also boasts more than 200 species of lichen on tree trunks and is among the richest woodland lichen sites in Wales.
The site is a vital part of the Meirionnydd Oakwoods Special Area of Conservation - of European importance for its plantlife. Within the last year the lichen Thelotrema petractoides was discovered in the neighbouring Coed Felinrhyd, and is found nowhere else in Wales.
The Celtic Rainforest, and below, Iolo Williams