15 years of monitoring environmental change on Snowdon - New
Fifteen years of monitoring changes in the
environment on Snowdon is revealing that shifts in temperature,
atmospheric pollutants and land management are all having an impact
on the mountain – beyond what could be put down to natural
at Snowdon, photo ©CCW
Monitoring at Snowdon, one of 12 terrestrial Environmental
Change Network (ECN) sites across the UK, is jointly funded by the
Welsh Government and Countryside Council for Wales. Fifteen years
on, it is starting to yield some interesting findings….
In terms of pollution from the atmosphere, there is some good
news. As a direct result of the UK’s drive to cut sulphur dioxide
emissions, there is significantly less acid rain – or sulphur
dioxide pollution - contaminating Snowdon’s natural habitats.
But habitats don’t recover overnight – it’s a slow process. And
ongoing pollution – from nitrogen oxides, mainly from vehicle
exhausts, and ozone, mainly from industry - are still having a
negative impact on vegetation.
Much has been made of whether Snowdon will, one day, be without
snow due to a warming climate. This winter has been one of the
mildest on record, but there was plenty of snow over the last
couple of winters. ECN looks at the bigger picture and, over the
last 15 years of monitoring, the data suggests the climate has
changed slightly on Snowdon – spring and summer temperatures have
risen, and winters have become wetter and less cold. More
butterflies than ever have been recorded here due to the warming
trend – they are well known indicators of environmental change.
In terms of land use, there has been a major change in our
uplands in general over the last 10 years including large falls in
the number of sheep on the site. Fewer sheep grazing the vegetation
has led to an increase in the amount of heather and purple-moor
grass on Snowdon, and less grassy areas – a more diverse mix of
plantlife which is good news for wildlife.
Dylan Lloyd, CCW’s Environmental Surveillance Officer and one of
the report’s authors said: “As our monitoring work progresses,
Snowdon ECN will continue to track changes in the climate, in
airborne pollution and land management, revealing valuable
information about the impact of changes on Snowdon’s natural
“Being part of a broader network of ECN sites across the UK
strengthens our findings. We can differentiate short-term variation
from long-term patterns of change, making ECN sites invaluable to
investigate the health of the ecosystems we all rely on,” he
Read the full report on CCW’s website –
The findings of the report will be presented and discussed at
the CCW Terrestrial Natura 2000 Monitoring Workshop in Aberystwyth
on 21st & 22nd February.
Our upland environments provide vital services to society. For
example, Wales’ uplands play a crucial part in providing clean
water. Indeed, about 70% of the UK’s drinking water comes from the
uplands. Upland soil, in good condition, helps purify water,
enhancing the condition of water in our lakes and reservoirs.
Uplands also help reduce floods – in good condition, upland
habitats act like sponges, releasing their water to lower lying
areas at a steady and manageable rate. If we look after our
mountain habitats, they will help look after us.
For more information contact CCW press Officers: Helen Evans on
01248 387377 or 07717225589 or Brân Devey on 02920 77 2403 /
07747767443 or email@example.com.
Interviews on Snowdon regarding the ECN report are available
with CCW Senior Pollution Impacts Adviser Simon Bareham.
NOTES TO EDITORS
- The Environmental Change Network (ECN) is a UK-wide monitoring
network dedicated to investigating how our environment changes over
time. There are 12 terrestrial sites in the network, with Snowdon
the only one in Wales. At each site, different components of the
ecosystem are recorded to give us an important insight into the
health of the ecosystems, and the impacts of environmental change,
including climate change, on them. The breadth and detail of
recording carried out at ECN sites means they are among a very
small number of long-term monitoring sites that can provide us with
comprehensive information on environmental change.
- CCW works with several Welsh Universities and the Centre for
Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) to provide opportunities for students
to undertake research projects at the Snowdon ECN site. This ranges
from providing site visits and lectures to undergraduates to
supporting longer, more detailed postgraduate research.
- The Countryside Council for Wales is a Welsh Government
Sponsored Body, working for a better Wales where everyone values
and cares for our natural environment. More information about our
work is available on www.ccw.gov.uk