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£9.8 million boost for Wales’ biodiversity

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WALES’ protected natural sites and vital wildlife habitats are getting a nearly £10 million boost, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths has said today.

The funding will give a helping hand to some of Wales’ most loved species of animals and plants, as it seeks to support projects that improve Wales’ protected natural sites, from the Severn Estuary to the Llandegla Moors.

These sites are home to the iconic – such as otter, bottlenose dolphin and grey seal, alongside the obscure – such as the petalwort plant and whorl snails. They are also home to a wide range of birds, including the critically endangered Atlantic puffin.

National Heritage Memorial Fund will be administering the ‘Nature Networks Fund’, providing grants from £50,000 – £500,000 to projects that work within the borders of Wales’ protected natural sites.

The sites supported provide a vital sanctuary and high level of protection to nearly 70 species, and more than 50 types of habitats which face threats worldwide.

They also contribute significantly to the Welsh economy through tourism recreation, farming, fishing and forestry. And they provide vital life-support services for all of us – including purifying drinking water, and storing carbon.

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The scheme will support actions such as woodland creation or felling; controlling invasive species; making water quality improvements through dredging or erosion control; restoring habitats; creation of green jobs and others.

Two horses  (Sol and Flynn) clearing woodland at Craig Gwladus. This is a project that is being funded by the Community Woodlands grant programme, which is Welsh Government funded.

Lesley Griffiths, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, said: Wales along with the rest of the world faces a nature crisis, with the state of our wildlife and natural habitats declining, threatening extinction to some of our most iconic species.

“The funding Welsh Government has provided to the protected site network is a vital step in protecting and restoring these areas, and helping us to strengthen resilient ecological networks.

“This means we have a better chance to enjoy our wildlife and beautiful national parks today and into the future, which we know pays dividends for our mental wellbeing. It means that the services that nature provides us for which we all rely- such as clean water and air- are better protected. And it means we, and all living things in Wales, can build better resilience against climate change.

“Places such as Special Areas of Conservation, Special Protection Areas and Sites of Special Scientific Interest are hugely important to Wales’ wildlife and natural heritage.

“They are cornerstones of our nature recovery work, and protect the range, quality and variety of some of our most important species. I look forward to seeing the exciting projects that arise from the fund that in tandem with the other work Welsh Government is undertaking, builds a green and healthy recovery from coronavirus.”

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Commenting on the announcement of the Nature Networks Fund, Andrew White – Director of The National Lottery Heritage Fund in Wales said: “Protected sites play a vital role in reversing the effects of climate change and we’re thrilled to be working with the Welsh Government to support Wales’ green recovery through the Nature Networks Fund.

“The Nature Network Fund will also support communities in and around these sites to become involved in this crucial work. This will have direct benefits for health and wellbeing as well as improving the resilience of the sites.”

Although the Nature Networks Fund opens for applications on 12 April, details about the programme are now available on The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s website.

Between 12 April and 24 May, projects wanting grants of between £50,000 and £100,000 can submit their applications.

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Projects interested in applying for grants of between £100,000 and £500,000 will need to make an expression of interest to The National Lottery Heritage Fund in Wales between 12 April and 30 April.

After this, groups who have passed the expression of interest stage will be invited to apply for a grant between 19 May and 30 June.

The Nature Networks Fund information can be viewed here: www.heritagefund.org.uk/funding/application-guidance-nature-networks-fund

Lead image: Puffin on Skomer Island in Pembrokeshire (Image: National Lottery Heritage Fund in Wales)


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Environment

Cadle Heath is alive with the sound of critters

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From endangered bats to moths, beetles and unusual critters, a Swansea suburb is giving locals an opportunity to discover exactly what’s living on their doorstep.

The Cadle Heath BioBlitz event funded by the Swansea Nature Partnership on Saturday, May 14, is a day packed with scavenger hunts, guided walks, opportunities to learn about the wildflowers, bugs birds, reptiles and mammals and help to gather important nature data by recording the unusual species living in this urban heath.

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This nature reserve is one of Swansea’s best kept secrets and stretches from behind Swansea Community Farm on Carmarthen Road, to popular shopping-destination, Pontarddulais Road Retail Park.

The event, which is organised by Swansea Community Farm, South East Wales Biodiversity Records Centre and Penderi Green Regeneration project, will take place between 10am and 3pm at the farm. Followed by a bat walk at 8.30pm, giving people the chance to listen for the elusive, red-listed, Lesser Horseshoe Bat in its natural habitat.

Kate McCabe from Pobl, leading on the Penderi Green Regeneration Project, said: “This is an exciting event for us. Cadle Heath is one of the best examples of urban heathland in the country and we are proud to have such a rich, exciting space for nature in the heart of Swansea’s Penderi region. The fact that the heath is home to a red-listed bat species is something we should be really proud of and something we should protect and celebrate.”

“Cadle is in such a highly populated part of Swansea that it is often overlooked, and people don’t often realise the hidden haven that exists for local wildlife. This family-friendly event will really bring the area to life, giving people a unique opportunity to really explore the area with the guidance of passionate scientists and nature experts.”

Katharine Aylett, from Swansea Community Farm, said: “We are proud to be hosting such an important and exciting event for the area, and to be partners of Pobl’s Penderi Green Regeneration Project. At Swansea Community Farm, we know the positive effect activities like this have on the community and local wildlife; it’s about raising awareness of the natural world and bringing people together, outdoors. 

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“The Penderi Green Regeneration Project itself, is vital to the area and is already having a clear impact on this part of Swansea. We’re looking forward to working with them on future events and initiatives.”

The Penderi Green Regeneration Project is an initiative to support local people in their desire to improve green spaces in their area which will help boost health and wellbeing. Through a series of physical and educational opportunities, the initiative will bring the wider neighbourhood together to regenerate green spaces in the Penderi area of Swansea.

Funded by UK Government, under the Community Renewal Fund (CRF), Pobl Group is able to deliver the Project with the help of key partners, Swansea Environment Centre, Room To Grow and the Conservation Team at Swansea Council.

For more information on the free event, visit: www.swanseacommunityfarm.org.uk

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Environment

First Minister celebrates 10 years of the Wales Coast Path

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The First Minister will celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the Wales Coast Path with a visit to meet volunteers and walkers.

A year long programme of events and activities celebrating the Wales Coast Path will take place throughout 2022, including walking festivals, virtual challenges and art installations.

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Since its opening in 2012, the Wales Coast Path has established itself as a beacon of our nation’s natural beauty.

The 870 mile path guides walkers along Wales’ picturesque coastline, weaving its way past a hundred beaches and sixteen castles.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “The coastal path is one of the crowning glories of Wales and one of the proudest achievements of devolution.

“I would like to thank all those involved in the management of the path. Particularly the staff and volunteers, who are out in all weathers, working hard to maintain the path to such high standards.

“If I had to choose my favourite stretch of the path, the portion between Pendine and Amroth would be a candidate: starting in my own home county of Carmarthenshire, and ending in Pembrokeshire. It may not be the most well-known part of the path, but it offers huge variety: some challenging climbs, outstanding variety of flowers, secret coves and plenty of historical interest”.

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The Welsh Government will build on the successes of the first ten years so that more people are able to enjoy the path, from more backgrounds, more easily, and with more benefits for local communities, businesses and the environment.

The Deputy Minister for Climate Change, Lee Waters MS, asked Huw Irranca-Davies, MS for Ogmore to undertake a review of the Wales Coast Path.

A small group, drawn from academia and the public, private and voluntary sectors was established to undertake the review.

The Group reflected on the key achievements over the last decade and identified how to maximise opportunities for the future.

Their report has been published on the Welsh Government website today (11 May).

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The review recognises the potential value and challenges of the Wales Coast Path. It contains 19 recommendations for the Welsh Government to consider when developing its future strategic approach to the path.

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Dyfed Powys Police

Man banned from driving for 12 months for fishing offence

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A man from Merthyr Tydfil who travelled to the River Loughor, near Llanelli to fish using a barbaric and illegal method, has been banned from driving for 12 months as part of his sentence.

Vu Quang Tien pleaded guilty to an illegal fishing charge and also to a charge of obstruction of a Natural Resources Wales (NRW) Fisheries Enforcement Officer on 26 April at Swansea Magistrates Court.

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Mr Tien and two other anglers were witnessed by NRW Fisheries Enforcement Officers deliberately using the illegal foul hooking method of fishing – also known as snatching – at the river Loughor on 15 August 2021. NRW officers attended the site after several reports of illegal fishing were made to NRW’s 24/7 incident call centre by concerned members of the community.

When approached and questioned by NRW officers, Mr Tien and his accomplices showed significant hostility and reluctance to share identification documents which eventually had to be extracted by use of reasonable force.

All of Mr Tien’s fishing tackle and fish, along with his associates’ fishing tackle was seized by NRW Officers at the time of the incident. The district judge on the day at Swansea Magistrates Court gave permission to NRW to confiscate these items permanently from each of them.

The District Judge disqualified Mr Tien from driving for 12 months due to seriousness of the incident, and the premeditated and deliberate action of travelling such a distance to commit the offence.

He was also ordered to pay a total of £2,334 in fines, NRW costs and a victim surcharge.

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Mark Thomas, Fisheries Enforcement Officer for NRW, said: “We would like to again thank Dyfed Powys Police, the local communities and also the law-abiding anglers in the area for their continued support in reporting these illegal fishing activities.

“Foul hooking is a truly barbaric form of fishing carried out by a small minority of anglers in Wales, who have no regard for fish welfare.

“NRW and the Police take these incidents seriously as do the courts.

“Hopefully, the small minority of anglers who may in future, think of using any illegal fishing methods will take heed of the heavy fines and driving ban in this case issued by the courts.”

(Lead image: Natural Resources Wales)

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