3 remarkable reasons why Igne’s client is rewilding hillside in the heart of Wales

Igne client Geraint Hughes is re-wilding 66 acres of Wales; we're supplying the water for this environmentally critical site.

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Over the past three decades, international lawyer and Igne client Geraint Hughes and his family have lived and worked overseas – but have always maintained close contact with Wales, and in particular their deep connection with their communities and family in the Rhondda and in Ceredigion – Geraint's family’s homeland.

Ceredigion – the true heart of Wales

Ceredigion is a stunning, rural county in central Wales.  It boasts Blue Flag Award-winning beaches and is home to the Cambrian Mountains, the source of many important rivers including the Wye and the Severn.

A swathe of the county was dubbed the Desert of Wales by English travel writers in the 19th Century because of the lack of roads and large towns, and its general inaccessibility.  It’s true that the county is far-lesser explored than better-known Welsh destinations such as the Gower or the county of Pembrokeshire, but that makes the location even more special, particularly for Geraint:

“Before my family left the land to work in the coal mines in the Rhondda, Ceredigion was their homeland. A few years ago, I retraced their footsteps, taking the 100 mile journey over the various mountain ranges. With that sense of belonging, I decided to purchase and carefully rewild Brynrodyn in Mynydd Bach.”

1) Bringing back biodiversity

As Geraint explains, the land he purchased was formerly Forestry Commission land, where the density of planted spruce trees led to the creation of a monoculture and a significant reduction in wildlife.

Between 2009 and 2010 Geraint oversaw the reintroduction of tens of thousands of native Welsh broadleaf trees.  Oak, rowan, blackthorn and hornbeam were just some of the species planted, all having been sourced from within a 15 mile radius of the highly elevated site.  It was critical to source locally to ensure the saplings were acclimatised to the sometimes-harsh weather conditions at 1,000ft, and were truly indigenous.

Some spruce has naturally regenerated on Geraint’s land, but it’s being carefully managed and allowed to grow because it provides shelter for other species, allowing them to prosper more quickly.

In just over ten years, real biodiversity has been achieved - with rare beetles, butterflies and birdlife being just some of the species returning to the heart of Wales.


2) Protecting bogland to support a critical carbon sink

A carbon sink absorbs more carbon that it releases, thereby lowering the concentration of CO2 from the atmosphere.  Oceans and forests are commonly understood examples of carbon sinks, and the broadleaf trees Geraint has planted will positively contribute.  Importantly on his site, there’s also an extensive peat bog which is now viewed as a highly valuable, natural carbon sink.

Initially, as he explains, Geraint was advised to drain the bog to increase the amount of land available for tree planting or commercial gain.

“Peat bogs are massive carbon stores and are therefore invaluable because of their critical ecological importance.  If I’d dried the bog the carbon would have been released.  Because my commitment to the land is about advancing the natural value of it, the bog remains untouched.”

3) Commitment to the local rural economy

The last of the three truly remarkable reasons why our client is carefully rewilding hillside in the heart of Wales is because of his commitment to the rural economy.  It’s how and why we came to work on the site, to drill for water to support the redevelopment of the ancient and abandoned farmhouse on the land.

“Wales is a centre of excellence and understanding within the green economy.  It’s home to an abundance of companies with world class expertise, I’ve not needed to look beyond local for the technology, the skills and the experience for everything I’ve needed on site.

“I’m reinstating the farmhouse using talented local craftsmen and the construction concept we’ve adopted is passive house.  So, the sustainable building materials needed to realise our vision, such as sheep’s wool insulation, are all locally sourced.  The environmentally conscientious engineering services I’ve needed I’ve found from Igne in Powys, just the next county over! 

“Everything anyone needs to support the wider green agenda is available in Wales.”

Engineering environmentally responsible boreholes – for water, for heat

Igne has been supporting the rural economy since our inception over 70 years ago.  We started by supplied generators for cows to be milked more efficiently with electric machines.  After diversifying into engineering, drilling and geophysical solutions, today we design, drill, install and maintain boreholes for water and for geothermal energy.

We’re committed to supporting the sustainable ambitions of our residential and commercial clients alike and are proud leaders when it comes to ensuring our processes are environmentally responsible.  For example, we only use biodegradable hydraulic oil in our machinery to protect water courses and aquifers

As a company, we consider ourselves privileged to have played a part in supporting Geraint’s ambition, and we will look forward to our future visits to track progress on the site.

Contact us to discover how we can support your re-wilding or environmentally important site, or to discuss ways a borehole could provide you with a sustainable energy or water source.