People and wildlife are benefiting from our project in the Irfon catchment in mid-Wales. We're working with local communities and landowners to protect one of the best remaining freshwater landscapes in Britain.

Three girls crouching down looking at invertebrates in water in a pond dipping tray.

Protecting one of Britain's best freshwater landscapes

The Irfon catchment in Mid-Wales is a Special Area of Conservation designated for its exceptional freshwater biodiversity, which includes one of the few remaining UK Freshwater Pearl Mussel populations. Sadly, exposure to multiple pressures means the catchment is currently failing to meet Habitats Directive and Water Framework Directive targets.

This is the first project in Wales to cover all aspects of the freshwater and wetland environment, including ponds. It focuses on the River Irfon, which stretches from Abergwesyn to Builth Wells, and its tributaries and floodplains and associated ponds and wetlands.

Freshwater Habitats Trust has been working in the Irfon catchment since 2018, building on work that began in mid-Wales in the mid 2000s as part of the People, Ponds and Water project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Through its Welsh Government funded Irfon Catchment Resilient Freshwater Habitats project, the charity has worked with local landowners and communities to monitor water quality and carry out species monitoring.

freshwater pearl mussel

- Freshwater Pearl Mussel

How we're making a difference in the Irfon catchment

Freshwater Habitats Trust is working with local farmers and landowners to reduce pollution and improve freshwater habitats for wildlife. The charity will be inviting local people to help secure the future of 10 endangered freshwater plants, by growing them at home before they are introduced to freshwater and wetland sites across the Irfon catchment.

The project will also create two new jobs in the area and provide opportunities for two trainees to develop the skills needed for a career in conservation.

eDNA monitoring and soil sampling in the Irfon catchment

In 2023, we conducted environmental DNA (eDNA) monitoring and soil sampling work in the River Irfon catchment. This work is helping us to understand more about the quality of freshwater habitats and the presence of freshwater species in the catchment.

Soil sampling data Irfon catchment, 2023