THE Gwent Wildlife Trust is urging the public to back its campaign calling on the Welsh Government to drop plans to build a motorway through the Gwent Levels.

The charity says the proposal to construct a new 14-mile-long six-lane M4 relief road could destroy and area it believes is “Wales' equivalent of the Amazon rainforest for its diversity of wildlife”.

It thinks a new motorway would jeopardise conservation work to save the UK’s fastest declining mammal.

Gwent Wildlife Trust says water voles have been discovered thriving across the Gwent Levels after bouncing back from extinction on the wetlands.

Six years ago, the charity reintroduced the endangered species to Magor Marsh Nature Reserve on the edge of the levels.

New mapping shows that they have bred successfully and spread up to six miles away.

The water vole is the UK’s most rapidly declining mammal and has been lost from 94% of places where they were once prevalent.

Earlier this year, The Wildlife Trusts released a report which revealed an ever-worsening situation.

A new map created by Gwent Wildlife Trust shows water voles are reclaiming their historic range.

But the news comes at a time when the Welsh government is due to announce a decision which will decide the fate of the Gwent Levels.

If given the green light, the trust said a new motorway would cut across six protected wildlife havens and destroy or damage a historic landscape.

Rare wildlife such as water voles, otters and cranes, they insist, would be badly affected.

Gwent Wildlife Trust is launching a new campaign today urging people to write to First Minister Carwyn Jones to ask him to drop the plans.

Ian Rappel, chief executive of Gwent Wildlife Trust said: “The fantastic success of the water vole reintroduction project is a wonderful testament to all the great efforts of volunteers and staff working to enhance the Gwent Levels for wildlife.

“This beautiful landscape is a nature-lover’s paradise and people really enjoy its peace and tranquillity. But the success is bitter-sweet.

“If the new road gets the go-ahead billions will be spent destroying a very special place for the sake of saving ten minutes of commuting time.”

Nature presenter Iolo Williams added: “This road is going to destroy Sites of Special Scientific Interest – these are the jewels in the Welsh crown.

“This road is going to destroy habitat for otters, for water voles and for cranes which have nested on the levels for the first time in 400 years. Let’s make sure the Welsh government wakes up to its commitment to future generations.”

For more information about the campaign to save the Gwent Levels, visit