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South Wales’s ‘Lost Peatlands’ given new lease of life

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A new project in the uplands of South Wales aiming to restore a historic peatland landscape and help people enjoy their local outdoor space has been awarded £1.56m by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. 

With additional match funding from partners and Vattenfall’s Pen y Cymoedd Wind Farm Habitat Management Fund, the overall project value is now more than £2.8m.   

The ‘Lost Peatlands of South Wales’ project will be delivered by the Lost Peatlands Partnership comprising Neath Port Talbot Council (Lead), Rhondda Cynon Taf Council, Natural Resources Wales, Swansea University and Coed Lleol (Small Woods).

The project will provide an exciting programme of environmental improvements and community activities over the next four years. 

Once referred to as the ‘Alps of Glamorgan’, the upland area between Neath Port Talbot and Rhondda Cynon Taf in the South Wales Valleys was historically an open moorland landscape of boggy peatland.

Today, commercial forestry plantations and renewable energy wind farms are a defining feature of this landscape – but large pockets of peat remain. Peat is invaluable in terms of carbon storage and wildlife habitat and is critical to climate change mitigation and reversing biodiversity decline.

The project will restore and manage more than 490 hectares of this historic landscape and habitats, including heathland, grassland and native woodland.  Of particular focus will be the direct restoration of 256 hectares of previously afforested peat bogs and pools. 

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Such habitat improvements will encourage many local wildlife species currently in decline to thrive again. These include birds like the skylark and nightjar; invertebrates like the dark green fritillary and small pearl bordered fritillary butterflies; and mammals, including the elusive water vole.

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The peat restoration works will be closely monitored and will inform important ongoing research by Swansea University to guide best practice restoration techniques and to understand impacts on biodiversity, water quality and CO2 emissions.  Access to this remarkably wild landscape will also be made easier through improved, guided footpaths and interpretation.

As part of the project, local people will also be able to experience, learn about and get involved with the heritage on their doorstep through a variety of free activities, events, schools outdoor learning programmes and volunteering opportunities. People will be able to gain new outdoor skills and knowledge via dedicated training programmes. Families and adults will also be able to join or be referred to the project’s health and wellbeing activity programmes. 

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Cllr Annette Wingrave, Neath Port Talbot Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Sustainable Development said: “The Lost Peatlands Project aims to not only improve the local environment but to provide benefits and support for local communities and we are delighted with the funding this important project has attracted.”

A spokesman for Natural Resources Wales said: “Peatland environments in Wales are in need of urgent action to reverse habitat loss and poor condition. As well as being an important natural resource for carbon storage and capture, peatlands are important regulators of greenhouse gas emissions and support habitats for biodiversity and water regulation. NRW is proud to be a partner in this project which will deliver environmental and community benefits.”

If you would like to find out more and be involved with this project, please search @LostPeatlands on social media, contact lostpeatlands@npt.gov.uk, and keep an eye out for the project launch week – 19th – 23rd July – when a range of activities and online talks will be taking place.

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Carmarthenshire

Residents encouraged to have say on Teifi Valley flooding schemes

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Consultation on flood prevention schemes by Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion councils in the Teifi Valley has been extended to August 31 to give more residents an opportunity to have their say.

Face-to-face events in Llandysul and Llynybydder have been added to the previous online only consultation.

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Residents can visit the powerhouse in Llandysul on Wednesday 24 August between 10am and 1pm, or between 3pm and 6pm. There’s also an event at Llanybydder RFC on Thursday 25 August between 10am and 1pm, and also between 3pm and 6pm.

Officers from Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion County Councils and Natural Resources Wales will be in attendance to answer any queries along with a representative from the consultants appointed by both authorities.

The council’s say that all partners involved want to understand the impact that flooding has on communities, how the flooding happens and to assess different flood measures that will reduce the impact during increasingly stormy weather in the future.

People will be able to submit feedback in person by writing their comments down and putting them in the box located at the venues. This will be in addition to the comments and suggestions submitted during the online consultation process.

The councils say that feedback from the consultation and these events will feed into the next stage of work and form part of any decision making that Natural Resources Wales and Welsh Government will undertake to design and implement any flood risk reduction scheme.

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Carmarthenshire County Council’s  Cabinet Member for Transport, Waste and Infrastructure Services Cllr Edward Thomas said: “We want as much feedback as possible from residents so that together we can look further into the options available to us to manage flood risk in these communities. The drop-in events will provide an opportunity for residents to speak to officers about the different options available and the next steps.”

Ceredigion County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways and Environmental Services and Carbon Management Keith Henson said: “We encourage the residents of Llandysul, Pont-Tyweli and Llanybydder to have their say in this consultation, either by attending the in-person events at the said locations or by visiting the online link on the council’s website. The responses from this consultation will enable us and our partners to explore what options we have to manage flood risk in the Teifi Valley.”

Lead image: Humphrey Bolton / Geograph)

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Environment

Swansea University named one of country’s best green spaces

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The spectacular and diverse grounds of Swansea University’s two campuses have once again been judged among the best green spaces in Wales.

The University is celebrating after being awarded a Green Flag, 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.

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It has also retained its Green Heritage Site Accreditation which it gained for the first time last year. This special award, endorsed by Cadw, recognises sites that are both historically significant and meet Green Flag criteria.

Grounds manager Paul Edwards paid tribute to his teams’ efforts at both University campuses: “We are immensely proud to have retained both the Green Flag and Heritage Award status. Our sites offer very different challenges and rewards and it is through the hard work and dedication of the team that both are to the highest standards for the enjoyment of our students, staff and visitors.

“The grounds team’s in-depth knowledge ensures that the historic nature of the Singleton site and the beachside setting of the Bay Campus will continue to be preserved and enhanced for future generations.”

Swansea University received a Green Flag Award for its two campuses

Swansea University Registrar and Chief Operating Officer Niamh Lamond said: “We are extremely pleased to have retained the Green Flag Award for five consecutive years. This recognises the hard work and commitment of our outstanding grounds’ team in developing and managing our green spaces in a sustainable manner, whilst appreciating the historic and scientific nature of these spaces.

“Our grounds and gardens are important to the wellbeing of our staff, students and local communities and valued immensely by the University.”

This year the University is among 265 green spaces – ranging from formal gardens and parks to allotments and churchyards – across the country have received the prestigious Green Flag Award and Green Flag Community Award.

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The Green Flag Award programme is delivered in Wales by environmental charity Keep Wales Tidy, with support from Welsh Government. Each site was visited by expert judges who looked at criteria including biodiversity, cleanliness, environmental management, and community involvement.

Welsh Government Minister for Climate Change, Julie James said: “Our local green spaces have a vital role to play in connecting us to nature. These awards go to prove that Wales’ parks and similar areas are doing a wonderful job in providing quality places to relax and enjoy.”

Lucy Prisk, Green Flag Coordinator at Keep Wales Tidy said: “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

Carmarthenshire council opens ‘Re-use village’ in Nantycaws

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Carmarthenshire County Council and CWM Environmental Ltd have officially opened Canolfan Eto, a brand-new re-use village in Nantycaws which the council says aims to help close the loop on waste in the county and give a new lease of life to unwanted items.

Canolfan Eto offers a sustainable shopping experience to customers looking to purchase a wide range of items including furniture, bicycles, paint, gardening items and much more.

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An education centre will soon host sessions for school pupils covering a range of environmental topics including; the importance of recycling, what happens to waste at recycling centres, how pollinators help us and how to support a circular economy in Carmarthenshire.

Cllr Aled Vaughan Owen, Cabinet Member for climate change, decarbonisation and sustainability said: “The opening of Canolfan Eto in Nantycaws marks an exciting step in the expansion of the Eto project as well as the growth of sustainability in Carmarthenshire.”

“With an on-site repair workshop to transform donations, the project looks to repair and re-use items to keep them in use for as long as possible.”

Cllr Edward Thomas, Cabinet Member for transport, waste and infrastructure services said: “Canolfan Eto will provide opportunities for residents and visitors to purchase a wide range of donated items that have been repaired and re-used by the project; helping to reduce the number of items that enter into the waste stream.”

The Eto project also includes a shop located in Stepney Street, Llanelli town centre which opened in 2021.

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Donation stations are available at all of Carmarthenshire’s household waste recycling centres, where residents can donate items to the project.

The council says that Eto means ‘again’ and symbolises its ambition of a circular economy. It adds that Canolfan Eto will encourage visitors to purchase and donate previously used items rather than buying new whenever possible. The council say that the project will also help to achieve Carmarthenshire’s ambition of delivering a circular economy throughout the county as well as becoming a leader in recycling and re-use within Wales.

A circular economy focuses on eliminating waste by cutting down on throw away consumption and turning materials that would have previously been disposed of into a valuable resource. 

This project has been funded through Welsh Government’s Circular Economy fund. 

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