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Japan gifts 100 cherry trees to two Swansea parks

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Visitors to two Swansea parks are enjoying the spectacular sight of 100 new cherry blossom trees.

They are gifts to the city from a project linked with the 2019-20 Japan-UK Seasons of Culture which is being celebrated here and in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Half have been planted by Swansea Council tree specialists in Cwmdonkin Park, Uplands; the other 50 have been planted in Jersey Park, St Thomas.

The trees will be particularly attractive when they blossom each spring.

Ceremonies were held at each park to celebrate the initiative. Both took place safely and in line with government guidelines.

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Mark Child, Lord Mayor of Swansea, said: “Swansea is a green city and it’s getting greener. The beautiful new cherry blossoms emphasise that.

“We thank those who run and support the Sakura Cherry Tree Project for their exceptional gift; these trees will provide many years of enjoyment for this and future generations.

“The trees will bloom well into the 22nd century and will offer a legacy of friendship between the UK and Japan.”

Mark Thomas, the council’s cabinet member for environment enhancement and infrastructure management, “Our city’s £1bn regeneration programme involves exciting new buildings and also a determination to increase the number of trees and the area’s biodiversity.

“Our cabinet’s vision is for the city to be net carbon zero by 2050. The council has already set itself the target of being a net carbon zero council by 2030.

“We want to fight climate change – and richer biodiversity such as that encouraged by the cherry trees will play a big part.”

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In Japan, businesses are funding the Sakura Cherry Tree Project through the Japan-British Society. Cherry blossom (sakura) is the national flower of Japan.

In the UK, the roll-out of the project is being coordinated by the Japan Matsuri charity.

Keisaku Sandy Sano, Founder and Joint Chairman of the Sakura Cherry Tree Project Team, said: “The response we have had from all across Wales, has been amazing. 

“It is testament to the strong relationship between our countries, and we hope the trees will be a lasting tribute to that.  Many Japanese corporations have decided to, through the Japan-British Society, generously donate to this project.

“I am deeply grateful for all the efforts and support given by people and corporations both in Japan and UK to this project.”

Keith Dunn, OBE, Honorary Consul for Japan in Wales, said: “Wales and Japan have a strong relationship developed over more than 100 years. At the heart of the relationship is a desire for mutual understanding and to learn from each other’s way of life, culture and history.

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“These trees are a strong symbol of our friendship that can be supported and enjoyed by future generations and I hope these plantings, particularly at this current time, will be embraced by our communities for the future.”

The Sakura Cherry Tree Project’s mission is to create a legacy for future generations. It is planting cherry trees in parks and public spaces across the UK.

First Minister Mark Drakeford joined Yasumasa Nagamine, Japan’s Ambassador to the UK, at the St Fagans National Museum of History on December 4 for the first formal planting in Wales of the 1,000 cherry trees gifted to public parks and schools across Wales.

The Sakura Cherry Trees will be distributed to more than 65 schools and colleges across Wales and to the cities of Cardiff, Bangor, St Asaph, Swansea and Newport.

Swansea schools set to receive them include St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School, Clydach, Trallwn Primary School, Llansamlet, and Ysgol Pen-y-Bryn, Clase.

Ambassador Mr Nagamine said: “We hope that people all over Wales will join with us in embracing this chance to deepen mutual understanding, thus helping to create an enduring legacy.

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“Yet the Sakura Cherry Tree Project will not just represent the lasting impact of the Japan-UK Season of Culture but will be a wider celebration of the cordial ties between Japan, the UK and Wales.

“Just like our relationship, these trees will grow stronger as they mature and, each year when they blossom, I hope they bring joy to people across Wales and remind them of the deep friendship between our two nations and peoples.”

Sakura Cherry Tree Project –https://japanuksakura.org/

(Lead image: Celebrating the planting of new cherry blossom trees at Jersey Park, St Thomas. From left: David and Cynthia Lloyd, of the Jersey Park Pavilion and directors of the GSP (Grenfell Park, St Thomas and Port Tennant) Community Regeneration Partnership; Keith Dunn, OBE, Honorary Consul for Japan in Wales; Mark Child, Lord Mayor of Swansea; and Mark Thomas, Swansea Council cabinet member). (All Images – Swansea Council)


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Environment

City parks flying the green flag for excellence

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The lake at Brynmill Park

Six of Swansea’s main parks have once again been awarded green flag status, recognising the vital role they play in boosting residents’ wellbeing and improving the natural environment.

The Green Flag Award programme is delivered in Wales by environmental charity Keep Wales Tidy, with support from Welsh Government. Sites are judged against eight strict criteria, including biodiversity, cleanliness, environmental management and community involvement.

In Swansea, the Council’s Clyne Gardens, Singleton Botanical Gardens, Brynmill Park, Parc Llewelyn, Cwmdonkin Park and Victoria Park have all gained the prestigious flag status.

Two more green flags have been awarded to Penllergare Trust for their efforts at Penllergare Valley Woods and Swansea University has received recognition for Singleton Campus.

Mark Thomas, Cabinet Member for Environment Enhancement and Infrastructure Management, said: “Once again, our parks and cleansing teams have had their commitment to keeping our much loved parks in wonderful condition rewarded. It’s also important to recognise our council staff have achieved this during the pandemic making this achievement even more special.

“Retaining green flag status is important to the council in terms of making a wider statement on our commitment to ensure the public and visitors to the city have excellent green spaces they can visit and enjoy what we have to offer.

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“I’m also pleased to see a large number of community gardens also get recognition for what they offer residents. This is largely down to community groups and volunteers who take it upon themselves to look after these green spaces and make sure that wherever you live in Swansea, there is certain to be somewhere nearby that families can visit.”

A total of 13 ‘community awards’ have also been given to smaller community based gardens and green spaces, including two new winners – Clydach Community Garden and Blaenymaes Community Garden.

Julie James, the Welsh Government’s Minister for Climate Change, said: “Green spaces are vital for mental and physical well-being and throughout the pandemic we have seen how important these spaces have been for local communities. 

 “Wales still holds more than a third of the UK’s Green Flag community sites and it is fantastic to see more places in Wales receiving Green Flag Award and Green Flag Community Award. 

 “These landscapes play a vital role in delivering rich ecosystems and vibrant and resilient communities, and I congratulate all of the sites for providing excellent, year-round facilities and events for people in Wales.”

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 Lucy Prisk, Green Flag Coordinator at Keep Wales Tidy said: “The pandemic showed us just how important high-quality parks and green spaces are to our communities. With more visitors than ever enjoying our green spaces, I’d like to congratulate the hard work of staff and volunteers who have maintained excellent standards at these sites.”

Lead Image: The lake at Brynmill Park (Image: Swansea Council)

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Environment

Swansea University gains double recognition for its outstanding green spaces

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Swansea University has once again been named among the country’s best green spaces.

The hard work of the University’s grounds team means the prestigious Green Flag will continue to fly at both its Singleton Park and Bay campuses.

The Green Flag is the international mark of a quality park or green space and recognises excellent visitor facilities, high environmental standards, and a commitment to delivering great quality green space.

This year the University has also achieved Green Heritage Site Accreditation for the first time. This special award, endorsed by Cadw, recognises sites that are both historically significant and meet Green Flag criteria. 

Grounds manager Paul Edwards said: “After what has been a challenging time for everyone, I am delighted we’ve not only retained the Green Flag but also gained the Heritage Award status.

“Singleton’s historic features are an important and celebrated part of the campus that students, visitors and the public alike have enjoyed for many years.

“The grounds team’s in-depth knowledge of these original features ensures that they will continue to preserve and enhance such assets for future generations.”

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The University’s historic Singleton site is set in lush parkland and boasts well-established grounds providing a wide variety of habitats, with grassland, mature woodland, planted areas and ponds which help to support an extensive variety of wildlife.

The Bay Campus, adjacent to Crymlyn Burrows Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), offers beachside habitats and plenty of room to explore its variety of species.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Boyle said: “We are extremely proud that our fantastic University campus has once again been recognised with Green Flag status. We understand the importance of our grounds for people and wildlife alike, and know that they play a key role in supporting the wellbeing of our staff, students and local community. We are committed to managing them with respect and care, with sustainability at the heart of all developments.

“After the challenges of the past year, Swansea University is pleased to once again be able to welcome people back onto our campuses to enjoy these special green spaces.”

The University is among 248 parks and green spaces – from country parks and formal gardens, to allotments, woodlands, and churchyards –   to be recognised by environmental charity Keep Wales Tidy, with support from Welsh Government.

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Independent green space experts volunteered their time in early autumn to judge applicant sites against eight strict criteria, including biodiversity, cleanliness, environmental management, and community involvement.

Congratulating all the winners, Minister for Climate Change Julie James described green spaces as vital for mental and physical wellbeing.  

She said: “These landscapes play a vital role in delivering rich ecosystems and vibrant and resilient communities.”

Lucy Prisk, of Keep Wales Tidy said: “The pandemic showed us just how important high-quality parks and green spaces are to our communities. With more visitors than ever enjoying our green spaces, I’d like to congratulate the hard work of staff and volunteers who have maintained excellent standards at these sites.”

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Carmarthenshire

Pembrey Country Park retains prestigious Green Flag award

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Pembrey Country Park has once again received the prestigious Green Flag Award.

The international award has been given to the popular tourist attraction for its amazing green space for the last three years.

The award is recognised for having the highest possible standards, being beautifully maintained and boasting excellent visitor facilities.

Around £4 million is being invested into the park as part of a masterplan to continue its development as a major tourism destination within Carmarthenshire and Wales.

This is the second award for Pembrey Country Park after it celebrated winning the Blue Flag status for Cefn Sidan earlier this year.

Since the Blue Flag awards were first introduced in 1988, Pembrey Country Park has won more Blue Flags than anywhere else in Wales. Cefn Sidan was also the first Welsh beach to win the accolade.

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Much of the investment has been completed with upgrading and extending camping and caravanning including the installation of a new amenity block and the opening of Yr Orsaf restaurant.

Work has already been completed on a national closed road circuit, a BMX pump track, an adventure golf course, a changing places facility at the ski and activity centre and new accessible toilets.

Improvements will soon be underway to upgrade the outside area surrounding Yr Orsaf restaurant and hub to give visitors a better experience.

Carmarthenshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture, Sports and Tourism, Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths said a lot of effort has been put into making the park what it is today. He said: “We are thrilled to be receiving this award once again which is only given to those green spaces that have demonstrated high standards. The coronavirus pandemic has shown us how important our green spaces are and they clearly provide health benefits for everyone.”

The Green Flag Award programme is delivered in Wales by environmental charity Keep Wales Tidy, with support from Welsh Government.

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Lucy Prisk, Green Flag Coordinator at Keep Wales Tidy said: The pandemic showed us just how important high-quality parks and green spaces are to our communities. With more visitors than ever enjoying our green spaces, I’d like to congratulate the hard work of staff and volunteers who have maintained excellent standards at these sites.”

Wales still holds more than a third of the UK’s Green Flag community sites.

(Lead image: Carmarthenshire Council)

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