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.
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 partnership 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.