A quarter of a million pounds is urgently needed to repair paths and restore wildlife habitats in Snowdonia, the National Trust has said.
The conservation charity, which looks after almost 23,500 hectares (58,000 acres) of mountain and farmland in Snowdonia , is hoping to raise the shortfall from a fundraising campaign launched today (6 February).
The National Trust already spends hundreds of thousands of pounds annually on conservation work in Snowdonia. But a recent review of the paths has revealed the scale of footpath erosion, with urgent repairs needed to more than two and half miles of path.
Rangers have urged the public to get behind the campaign in order to be able to get to work immediately, restoring much-needed paths for visitors and protecting rare wildlife like the endangered Snowdon beetle.
Rhys Thomas, National Trust ranger in Snowdonia, said: “Thousands of people come from all around the world to enjoy Snowdonia’s rugged beauty. But Snowdonia isn’t as tough as it first appears.
More and more people are coming to enjoy the beautiful scenery in Snowdonia. On Snowdon, Wales’ highest mountain, we’ve seen the number of walkers double since 2007.
“Now, broken paths are putting Snowdonia’s nature in danger. When they break up and turn into mud it can be incredibly difficult to know where to step.
“Delicate upland habitats are being flattened, making it impossible for ring ouzels nesting on the ground along Snowdon’s Watkin Path to find insects to feed their chicks.
“I’ve been building and rebuilding paths in the area for eight years. It’s tiring, time-consuming work – involving tens of volunteers shifting tonnes of stone by hand, vehicle and helicopter.
“But it’s vital to repair paths if we’re serious about protecting creatures like the Snowdon beetle that in Britain are only found in Snowdonia.”
The National Trust’s appeal is being supported by Hollywood actor Matthew Rhys.
The Americans and Edge of Love star, who was born in Cardiff and has strong connections to the area, said: “I still get swallowed up by the scenery and sounds of Snowdonia. I have a profound love for this place, from the legendary Llyn Dinas lake to the great Snowdon summit across one of the most dramatic valleys in Wales, Nant Gwynant.
“Seeing the joy these unique wonders bring for so many people, I desperately want to complete this vital repair work so fellow nature enthusiasts can enjoy Snowdonia for generations to come.
“But I know there’s a delicate balance to be struck between man and nature. Preserving that balance inevitably needs resources that allow organisations like National Trust to do such an amazing job in making these areas of outstanding natural beauty more resilient for all to enjoy.”
More than four million people visit Snowdonia every year, with 450,000 walking up Snowdon alone.
The £250,000 appeal will enable National Trust rangers and volunteers to repair and create two and a half miles of paths in Snowdonia. On average it costs £180 to build just one metre of footpath.
The appeal, which is the latest in the National Trust’s long-running Snowdonia Appeal, will run until the end of 2017.
To donate visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/snowdonia-appeal or call 034 800 1895.