RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds)

Monitoring habitat reversion at Ynys-Hir Reserve

RSPB Ynys-hir used the COBWEB app to investigate the progress of two different habitat area reversion projects; salt marsh and peat bog, which throughout their history have been influenced by both natural forces and in the last 150 years, man’s intervention. In 2015 they ran a total of 16 sessions with 255 citizen scientists, mostly children from local schools.


The RSPB with funding from the Environment Agency and advice from Countryside Council for Wales began a long term project to undertake a managed retreat and convert an area of lowland grass into upper saltmarsh habitat. Saltmarsh is a threatened habitat due to land reclamation over the last century and the benefit of the reversion work is to increase this special habitat and associated flora and fauna. Two existing old sea wall defences were breached to allow salt water into this area at the highest tides (a few days every month), creating upper saltmarsh on land drained and isolated from tidal influence since the 19th century.

Surveys on this area look for key plant species that would indicate a tolerance for saline conditions such as rush and also use sensors to sample the water and the soil for salinity levels.

Peat Bog

In the United Kingdom undisturbed lowland raised bog has decreased by about 94% over several centuries. Therefore the Covert Coch Mire Restoration Project is very significant.

Covert Coch was a 10ha conifer plantation with rhododendron under storey. It was planted in 1890 when the reserve was a private estate. Some mire loving plants still grew in a small central area. The aim of the work was to restore a lowland raised bog in which these plants and the species dependent on them, could revive and spread. In the last ten years, the conifers have been felled and the remaining rhododendrons removed. Dams and sluices have been installed to raise water levels across the area.

Groups using COBWEB to record observations in the Peat Bog

The observations from the COBWEB app can now feed into management of these areas and update knowledge banks about the progress of these projects.

Read the full report by RSPB Ynys-hir about their Co-Design project using COBWEB in the PDF provided below.