The Gwent Levels - a landscape under threat

Credit: Neil Aldridge

Photographer Neil Aldridge has documented the wildlife, people and habitats of the Gwent Levels - a landscape under threat from a proposed new motorway around the city of Newport.

The Gwent Levels is an area of coastal wetland bordering the Severn Estuary in south Wales. It is vital for nature, with parts of the Gwent Levels protected by both national and international wildlife laws. The landscape here will be either ruined or badly damaged if the new M4 motorway gets the go-ahead.

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Gwent Levels landscape

Credit: Neil Aldridge

The 900 miles of Gwent Levels waterways, known locally as ‘reens’, are a soup of life - home to hundreds of rare creatures. Numerous rare birds live and migrate there to breed, including European cranes which have recently returned to breed on the proposed route of the motorway, after an absence of 300 years. 

A waterway

The waterways on the Gwent Levels are known locally as ‘reens’.

"I've been lucky enough to work in some of the world's most remote and pristine environments but the Gwent Levels - right on the doorstep of the people of Bristol, Newport and Cardiff - are more important now than ever. We need to embrace the role this landscape plays in human food security and access to fresh water, not cover it in tarmac and fill the rivers with pollutants. When we take care of nature, we take care of ourselves."

- Neil Aldridge

Bumblebee approaches wildflowers

Credit: Neil Aldridge

Water vole sat on a floating log

Water voles are declining in the UK but here they thrive

Gwent Levels Neil Aldridge water

The Gwent Levels are home to more than 900 miles of ditches, brimming with wildlife

Black-tailed skimmer - Neil Aldridge

Black-tailed skimmer - Neil Aldridge

Meadow brown butterfly - Neil Aldridge

Meadow brown butterfly - Neil Aldridge

Little egret wading through water

A Little Egret wanders freely through the reens

Two ponies graze

Ponies graze to help manage the habitat for wildlife.

Ruddy darter dragonfly sitting on a leaf

Male Ruddy Darter Dragonfly making the most of this watery habitat

Marbled white butterfly explores grassland

A marbled white butterfly enjoys a wildflower meadow on the Levels

The Gwent Levels are special for people too. They offer wild vistas to see and explore. A natural open landscape where we can escape and connect with nature. Volunteers work with Gwent Wildlife Trust to manage Magor Nature Reserve that make up part of the Levels, making it even better for both people and wildlife.

Volunteer stands in the grassland
Young volunteer stands in grassland
Gwent Levels landscape with coast

The Gwent Levels is a coastal habitat neighbouring the River Severn


Gwent Wildlife Trust and many other organisations are campaigning to protect the Gwent Levels from destruction.

Join us and help the fight to protect this beautiful landscape.

Send a message asking the First Minister of Wales to drop plans to build a motorway over the Gwent Levels.

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