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Call for greener gardening: New survey reveals importance of eco-friendly products and practices to Welsh adults

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Garden Centre retailer Dobbies has released an expert guide to nurture a healthy, sustainable garden, as a new survey reveals the importance adults in Wales place on environmentally-friendly products and practices.

Enjoying the benefits of gardening and being in nature has many positives, for both our physical and mental wellbeing. 

Taking steps to a more sustainable future, Dobbies say they’re passionate about showcasing to gardeners, of every age and skill level, how we can all play our part to help nurture the nature on our doorstep. With a target to be peat-free by the end of 2021, you can now find Dobbies own brand peat-free compost instore.

As part of their sustainable mission, Dobbies is delighted to have recently launched a three-month trial of the UK’s first compost packaging recycling scheme. Partnering with Evergreen Garden Care to roll out the initiative in 10 stores, garden furniture will be created from the recycled material and donated to Greenfingers, a charity that creates green spaces for terminally-ill children. 

A new survey conducted for Dobbies to uncover consumer attitudes and opinions around sustainable gardening has highlighted the importance Welsh residents place on environmentally friendly products and practices. The Censuswide survey has revealed that:  

  • Over 8 in 10 (82%) Welsh adults surveyed agree they make a conscious effort/go out of their way to recycle, higher than the national UK average (73%) 
  • Over half of Welsh respondents (53%) agree they make a conscious effort/go out of their way to buy products with reduced plastic 
  • Well over half (58%) Welsh respondents said using peat-free compost is important** to them  
  • Using environmentally-friendly gardening products is somewhat important to 44% of Welsh adults surveyed, rising to over two-thirds (67%) when combined with those who said this was very important to them 
  • Two-thirds of adults in Wales surveyed (66%) said using environmentally-friendly pest control products is important** to them

Continuing to lead the way with instore recycling initiatives and launching even more sustainable products, Dobbies is on hand to help conscious customers create greener gardens this summer and beyond.

Horticultural Director at Dobbies, Marcus Eyles commented; “From encouraging garden wildlife, to using greener gardening products, there is plenty you can do to help the environment around us thrive. Gardeners are so close to nature – working with the seasons, working with the soil and the wildlife in their gardens, it’s in all our interests to look after nature and give it a gentle helping hand. Working from the ground up is a good place to start, as healthy soil means happy plants – and a more sustainable world.”

Listen to the Dobbies Sustainable Gardening podcast, where Marcus joins host Louise Midgely to discuss the importance of sustainable gardening and how Dobbies are taking steps for a greener future: https://www.dobbies.com/podcasts

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Soil health…Marcus’ 5 steps to supercharge your soil 

To a degree, gardeners have to play the hand they’re given. There’s not much you can do to affect the dominant soil type of your garden, whether it’s clay, sand or a loamy mix. But you do have power to improve your soil’s structure. Adding organic content over time is the best way to nourish soil so that it collects the vital nutrients your plants need, while efficiently draining away surplus water. Natural ways of nourishment are always best. That way, the planet benefits while your plants enjoy the best possible chance to flourish. 

1. Make compost 

Home composting is a free and satisfying way to improve your soil. If your soil is sandy, compost will add bulk; if it’s clay, compost breaks it up. Almost any garden can fit a compost heap or bin. Use roughly equal parts ‘greens’, such as weeds, grass clippings and vegetable peelings, and ‘browns’ – paper, card or prunings. 

2. Preserve peat 

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Peat was a traditional ingredient in commercial compost. But in recent years concern has grown about vanishing peat habitats. Left in place, peat stores carbon and protects against climate change. Highly effective peat-free compost options are now available. At Dobbies we’re doing our bit with a range of new peat-free products. We aim to be 100% peat-free in relation to bagged compost by the end of 2021. 

3. Attract worms 

For soil health, worms are your friends. They eat rotting organic material and provide natural fertiliser. As they burrow, they create routes for oxygen and water to reach plant roots. Adding manure or compost will make your garden attractive to worms. 

4. Grow manure 

‘Green manure’ is the term for plants that you simply chop down after they’ve grown, leave to wilt and then dig into the soil. There, they release vital nutrients. Good manure plants include buckwheat, fenugreek, mustard plants and crimson clover.  

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5. Use liquids 

Liquid fertilisers support plants at critical times, such as after they’ve been transplanted. They’re useful in container soil as well as beds and borders. Don’t overdo them – they’re at their most useful when your plants need a boost. 

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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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