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Rachael Garside Rachael Garside | 16:02 UK time, Friday, 18 November 2011

A couple of countryside stories have caught my eye this week.

The first was a report from conservationists calling for urgent action to restore vast areas of peatland - including the Welsh uplands, in order to control levels of CO2 emissions.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) estimates that losing just 5% of the UK's peatlands and bogs would be equal to the UK's entire annual carbon emissions. Peatlands also lock in more carbon that the entire country's forests.

I remember last year visiting the Hafren Forest in Mid-Wales which is a stone's throw away from the source of the River Severn and one of the most remote parts of Wales.

The views were glorious and thanks to the peat, it was extremely boggy under foot. In an effort to protect the wetland areas and the host of wildlife and plants that live there - the Forestry Commission had built a series of around 30 'natural dams' made of straw and heather bales.

These dams allow a slow release of water from the forest, ensuring that a new peat layer can gradually build up.

It's hard to imagine that a few peatbogs high up in the Welsh hills can have a dramatic effect on our country's climate and how easy it is to overlook their significance.

But the worrying thing is that according to the IUCN report, around 80% of the Uk's peatlands and bogs are being damaged by overgrazing, burning and extraction. And that because they also produce about 70% of the UK's drinking water, they're calling for tougher controls on the use of peatlands.

Another story this week came from the Health and Safety Commission's annual figures which alarmingly show that farming is still officially the country's most dangerous profession.

I wouldn't want to suggest for a minute that farmers don't take safety seriously, but the levels of accidents - too many of them fatal, has been consistently high. Is more training the answer?

When you think of the heavy machinery, the large animals and isolation element, isn't it obvious that the risk of accidents is high?

I know most farmers would argue that time is a factor and that they have no choice often but to work alone. Cost could be another issue But then again, it's an even higher price to pay if you injure yourself in the line of work.

Finally, on a lighter note, congratulations to Andrew Rees from Narberth who has been named Welsh Butcher of the Year.

I used to be a customer of his when I lived in the area and was always impressed by the choice of meat and fish on offer and the fact that it was all locally sourced!


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