Wonderful Woodlands

Well it’s that time of year again where the Development team visit funded projects to monitor their progress and grant spend. It is a hectic time of year but also one of the most enjoyable as we get to go and see what the Environment Wales funding has enabled the projects to do.

So this week I monitored my first project, one that has been funded by the initiative for the first time since registering with us in 2013 – Coed Bont Woodland. As an Environment Wales Development Officer for The National Trust I support groups throughout Wales each with their own individual project but with the same common goal in mind to protect and improve the environment in Wales.Coed Y Bont woodland

On my journey to the project I travelled up through Tregaron, past the mysterious stretch of Tregaron Bog to Pontrhydfendigaid right on the western flank of the Cambrian Mountains and just below the Snowdonia National Park I reached my destination.

As usual I was rather early for our meeting, I always expect to hit problems and luckily rarely do, and so had a chance to meet not just with Jim, the Vice Chairman, and his wife Mandy, but also 4 members of the environmental sub-group who are assisting in the delivery in the project. It’s just brilliant to witness the amazing expertise these projects have through their volunteers – so much knowledge and experience freely given to benefit their community.

The project grant, awarded by Environment Wales, has enabled the group to monitor the wildlife in Coed Bont Woodland which the group have also taken on aspects of caring for in partnershCoed Bont Woodlandip with the land owners – Natural Resources Wales. The funding also covered tools to enable some management of paths and to engage the residents of Pontrhydfendigaid with the woodland. It is plain to see the money is enabling them to do all that they hoped and more.

The project now has up to 36 people volunteering in the woods and they have already exceeded their target for volunteer hours. They have run several engagement events and undertaken lots of wildlife monitoring which is already producing lots of interesting data including evidence of water voles. This once again shows how important identifying the creatures and plants that inhabit your surroundings helps to inform the management of an area. Coed Bont Woodland is mostly a coniferous wood but it’s proving to be a real wildlife haven.

Since they had the Environment Wales funding they have also received £82,000 from Aggregates Levy to put in some foot paths, some ponds and a picnic areas which further compliments the existing work undertaken by the group. The additional money will also help the group, in partnership with NRW, to manage the whole woods for wildlife.

This is another inspiring project and it is wonderful to see how the Environment Wales grant is enabling a local community make their local woodland an asset for the community and for the wildlife that calls it home.

A Myriad of Habitats at St Madoc Centre

St Madoc Centre is a not-for-profit youth camp, usually catering for church and school groups. It is open to children of all ages and all religious backgrounds and is nestled amongst a rich tapestry of habitats including woodland and coastland. The site therefore has a vast array of biodiversity and the centre aims to allow young visitors to experience the outdoors and learn outdoor skills, something that often children, especially from more disadvantaged backgrounds, do not have the opportunity to enjoy at home.

Sarah Leedham, the Environment Wales Management Grant funded post-holder, kindly took us on a tour of the idyllic surroundings, which began in the woodland area of the site. The woodland was not dense and so the light danced through the leaves of the trees and various plants, fresh from their winter sleep, erupted from every nook and cranny. These included fresh, lime-green unfurling ferns and primroses that threatened to reclaim the meandering pathways. We passed a bee hive which an external group currently manages and the group wish to expand this area of activity to provide interpretation for their visitors.

Sarah then led us to a pond area which boasted its own, unique residents and she explained that this area provided an opportunity for children to try their hand at pond-dipping. We then walked past a bird-feeding station, past a small growing area complete with polytunnel and an outdoor classroom, the perfect place for children to learn.

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The male adder

We were then led onto the cliffs overlooking the sea, which was quite a sight after being surrounded by trees for the majority of our journey. Sarah lifted some reptile mats laid along the boundary of a field backing onto the cliff-tops and I saw my first adder – a male in this case, given away by his black markings. Butterflies busied themselves regardless of our clumsy steps, but unfortunately all of the common lizards were alerted to our presence and scuttled from their warm basking spots for cover. Sarah’s keen eye caught site of them but they were too fast for the rest of us to see.

Sarah told us of the centre’s activities and how they are able to support children from low income families to attend the centre with bursaries. The centre can provide a programme of activities for the youngsters, but often they just provide one or two educational activities and then the schools/churches have their own activities planned, set against the idyllic back-drop of the site. It was clear to see not only the educational opportunities in terms of biodiversity, habitats, and food growing that the centre provides, but also the social benefits, with children of all backgrounds being able to play and enjoy the outdoors together, far away from any stresses they might have at home.

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One of the many stunning views at the centre

We left the centre with a definite feeling of calm, appreciative of having had the opportunity of seeing such a wonderfully diverse site and to help support such a wonderful home for a myriad of small creatures.

Kate Fletcher, Environment

My time with EW

As many of you know, I will soon be leaving Environment Wales.  Change, as it always seems to do, has made me look back over my time here and think about what I’ve seen, learnt and achieved.  I don’t leave until next week but while I have a spare moment, I thought I’d share my feelings with you.

I came to Environment Wales after working as an Education Officer, I had experience of being in a community group and of writing grant applications but I’m not sure I really understood what I was letting myself in for ;-).  I started with BTCV as it was named at the time in April 2010.  My line manager was Callum and I had a lot to live up to after my predecessor Rosa.  I remember my first week well.  The weather was beautiful and I headed over to Forest Farm full of expectation.  I had an induction with BTCV and then an induction with Clare in the Environment Wales office.  At that point, I wondered how I would ever get to grips with all the forms, the procedures and the general advice that I was going to need to share with my list of 50 groups.

Spending time with the team, both the Development Officers and the Co-ordination staff over the next few months really helped. They really showed me the way, gave me advice, shared their endless knowledge and gave me the confidence that I needed to go out and speak to groups.  Their role continued over the next 4 years, every single one of them was there when I needed information, expertise, support or encouragement.

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When BTCV (now TCV) left their Wales office it looked like I would have to find another job, however the Environment Wales partnership pulled together and luckily I was hosted with Wildlife Trusts Wales temporarily while they recruited another core partner.  That core partner has now been found and The Woodland Trust are coming on board.  I think they are a wonderful addition to the Environment Wales family, exactly what the initiative is all about.  Unfortunately for me, their Machynlleth location meant that I wasn’t in the position to apply and so my Environment Wales journey has come to an end.

So as I look back at my time here, I realise that I have learnt so much, but there is also so much left to learn.  Every single group that I have worked with has taught me something new and I hope that each one has learnt something from me.  Every group gives so much time and energy to improving the welsh environment that I think it is impossible to not being inspired by every single one.  So many hours are given by volunteers, making the places that we live so very special and although times are hard and it would be easy to give up, people don’t, they continue digging, promoting and inspiring – helping people to see the difference and ensuring that they understand how they can help.

I was going to use this blog to highlight some of the great projects that I have worked with, but there are so many.  How can I chose the best when that means making a comparison?  The most wonderful thing about EW is its wide ranging support, helping community allotments, through to reuse centres, to woodland projects, to protected species projects, to education projects and everything in between, covering all areas of the country.  While I may have a favourite project one day, I can guarantee it will change within 24 hours.

Environment Wales has been the perfect opportunity for me to get a full understanding of the scope of voluntary projects that we have across Wales.  I have met the most amazing people that I think I will ever meet and I hope to see many of you again.  The joys of working in the sector, is that you can never stray far.

I look forward to hearing about your developments and bumping into you again soon.

Julie Furber, Development Officer


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Environment Wales funding gives Three Crosses Village a boost!

Three Crosses Village Trust in Swansea has obtained a pre-project grant from Environment Wales of £5000. Cllr. Paxton Hood-Williams, Chairman of Three Crosses Community Council and Trust, said that it was one of the original objectives, set by Three Crosses Community Council, to increase biodiversity across the village.  The funding will enable the Trust to have a Biodiversity Survey across the village and identify and formulate plans and firm projects to maintain and improve our environment.   They will be working closely with the consultants, The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales, to perform the survey and will be involving the community at every stage. The survey will provide the base situation against which they will be able to monitor the effectiveness of any bio-diversity projects carried out, in addition the survey will identify such potential projects.

They are committed to working with individuals and groups to deliver these improvements. Indeed a number of groups including Crwys primary school have already said that they are keen to participate, and they welcome support from any other groups and individuals, who want to get involved in this exciting project. Naturally, they will be keeping residents informed of progress via our quarterly village newsletters and web site.

Environment Wales are very excited about the project and look forward to working closely with them.

Newydd i Amgylchedd Cymru

Mae Amgylchedd Cymru yn unigryw yn y gwasanaeth mae’n ei ddarparu i’r prosiectau a gefnogai. Mae llawer o grwpiau yn dod atom gyda diddordeb mewn cofrestru er mwyn cael cymorth o’r fath gan Swyddog Datblygu pwrpasol. Bob mis, caiff ceisiadau eu hadolygu a’u trafod i benderfynu a ydynt yn addas i gael eu cofrestru ag Amgylchedd Cymru. Mae’r tîm yn asesu cryfderau, gallu ac arferion cynaliadwy’r prosiect, yn ogystal â’i nodau a’i amcanion cyffredinol. Yna mae’r tîm yn penderfynu a ddylid cofrestru’r prosiect ag Amgylchedd Cymru ai peidio. I’r rheini sy’n llwyddo, maent yn cael statws prosiect cofrestredig ac yn cael mynediad at ystod o grantiau i ddatblygu eu prosiect. Os nad yw grŵp yn llwyddo i gofrestru ei brosiect, mae’r tîm yn dal i roi cymorth iddynt er mwyn darganfod opsiynau eraill. Mae’r tîm hefyd yn eu cynorthwyo i ailddatblygu’r prosiect maent am ei gynnal a allai fod yn addas i’w gofrestru yn y dyfodol. Mae Amgylchedd Cymru yn cofrestru 30 o brosiectau’r flwyddyn. Mae bob un yn amrywiol yn ei nodau a’i amcanion ond mae ganddynt un peth yn gyffredin, sef eu hymroddiad i Ddatblygu Cynaliadwy ac i weithredu dros yr amgylchedd.

Mae’r ddolen ganlynol yn rhoi manylion prosiectau sydd wedi cofrestru ag Amgylchedd Cymru yn ddiweddar, ynghyd â’u lleoliad, eu gwefan a’u prif weithgareddau – gobeithio y cewch eich ysbrydoli!


New to EW

Environment Wales is unique in the service it provides to the projects it supports. Many groups approach us with an interest in registering to receive such support from a dedicated Development Officer. Each month applications are put forward for review and are discussed to determine their suitability as an EW registered project. The team assess the strengths, capacity and sustainable practices as well as the overall aims and objectives of the project. Then the team makes a decision about registering the project with Environment Wales. For those that are successful, they are granted registration status and permitted access to a range of grants available to develop their project. If a group is unsuccessful the team continues to provide support to enable them to discover other options. They also assist them to redevelop the project they want to undertake which may be suitable for future registration. Environment Wales registers up to 30 projects a year. Each is diverse in its aims and objectives but they all have one thing in common which is their commitment to Sustainable Development and action on the environment. The following posts give details of projects recently registered with Environment Wales, together with their location, website and principal activities – we hope you are inspired!



Gair gan Swyddog Datblygu

Yn yr un modd â holl grantiau Amgylchedd Cymru, rydyn ni’r Swyddogion Datblygu yn cael ein hariannu 75% drwy’r fenter, a rhaid i’r 25% arall ddod gan ein partneriaid craidd, Groundwork Caerffili yn f’achos i. Steve B

Rai blynyddoedd yn ôl gofynnodd Groundwork Cymru i mi ddyfeisio prosiect a fyddai’n cyd fynd â’n hamcanion craidd ac yn helpu i ddenu 25% mewn cyllid cyfatebol. Felly dechreuais feddwl, sut allwn ddefnyddio fy nghymwysterau a’m sgiliau a beth fyddwn yn hapus i’w wneud? Fe’m trawyd gan yr ateb bron ar unwaith; byddwn yn sefydlu prosiect addysg ac ymwybyddiaeth blodau gwyllt i gynyddu dealltwriaeth o’r rôl hanfodol y mae cynefinoedd blodau gwyllt yn ei chwarae yn y byd modern.

Steve at GreenshootsA wyddoch ein bod wedi colli 98% o’n dolydd llawn blodau gwyllt ers yr ail ryfel byd ac yn anffodus ni ellir eu hail-greu’n hawdd gyda phecyn hadau. Mae angen sefydlu systemau a chysylltiadau cymhleth rhwng y blodau a ffyngau’r pridd (mycorhisa) cyn i gynefin amrywiol a dynamig ffurfio. Rydym yn dibynnu ar gynefinoedd naturiol, gan gynnwys cynefinoedd blodau gwyllt, i ddarparu dŵr glân i ni, helpu i leddfu llifogydd a darparu cartref a bwyd i nifer o rywogaethau gan gynnwys y rheini sy’n gwneud cyfraniad mawr at ein heconomi ac at ddiogelwch y cyflenwad bwyd. Mae ganddynt hefyd gymaint o amrywiaeth enynnol nes fod hyd at 75% o’n holl feddyginiaethau wedi deillio’n wreiddiol o blanhigion. Ac os nad yw hynny’n ddigon maent yn le gwych i ymlacio, sydd wedi’i brofi’n glinigol hefyd gyda llaw.

Felly dros y ddwy flynedd diwethaf rwyf wedi bod yn rhoi pecynnau addysg at ei gilydd, yn helpu grwpiau i sicrhau cyllid i dyfu eu cynefinoedd blodau gwyllt eu hunain ac wedi hau dros 42,502 m2 o hadau blodau gwyllt yn uniongyrchol. Rwyf wedi creu gwefan addysg a dechrau llunio adnodd adnabod arlein sydd wedi golygu treulio dyddiau’r haf yn y wlad yn tynnu lluniau; mae’n waith caled ond rhaid i rywun ei wneud!