The Current Situation in Snowdonia
In addition to our continued commitment to reduce our carbon footprint, here at Snowdonia National Park Authority we aim to work alongside other Government organisations, conservation bodies, third sector nature conservation and community groups and land-owners to promote and implement appropriate adaptation and mitigation schemes. Whilst Snowdonia as an area is likely to be a net sink of greenhouse gases due to its rural setting and lack of heavy and power industries, there is always room for improvement by altering current land management practices, reducing emissions and implementing sound mitigation techniques. For example:
- Approximately 30% of Wales’ peak bog is found within the boundaries of Snowdonia National Park, equivalent of over 21,000 ha. In good condition, peat stores approximately 5,000TCO₂ha⁻¹, and absorbs 0.7TCO₂ha⁻¹yr⁻¹. Consequently, by undertaking restoration works of blanket bog habitat, we can maximise the potential of peat as a net sink of CO₂.
- There is approximately 38,000ha of woodland within Snowdonia National Park, which equates to approximately 18% of the land area. It is estimated that UK woodlands store a total of 150mTCO₂, absorbing 4mTCO₂ from the atmosphere annually (approximately 2% of total UK greenhouse gas emissions per annum). Although the amount of carbon stored in a particular woodland depends on several factors such as tree species present, underlying soil type, growth rates and the age of the stand, over a period of 100 years, a newly established forest can store up to 5tCO₂ha⁻¹. Consequently, it is important that we maximise the potential for woodland creation within the National Park whilst ensuring the appropriate management of our existing woodlands so that they remain a carbon sink over the coming decades.
- The agricultural sector accounts for approximately 11% of greenhouse gas emissions in Wales, the majority of this being methane and nitrous oxide (circa 90%). Due to the large presence of agriculture within Snowdonia (approximately 80% of land in the National Park is registered as agricultural land), and the absence of heavy industry and energy production, the land use sector is likely to be the primary emitter of greenhouse gases within the National Park. By improving on-farm efficiency and introducing new techniques in the management of livestock and land, we believe that the agricultural sector can play a significant role in mitigating the impacts of climate change.
In addition to the above, there are several other sectors which contribute significantly to the levels of greenhouse gas emissions in Snowdonia, most notably the leisure and tourism industry and transport sector. Consequently, initiatives such as Green Snowdonia have been founded in order to raise awareness of the importance of sustainability and climate change adaptation in the local leisure and tourism sector. What is apparent from the above is the important role everyone has to play in mitigating the impacts of climate change. We, as an Authority, are looking to lead the way in implementing changes. However, it is vital that every one of us becomes engaged with the topic in order to make a real difference within Snowdonia National Park.