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New funding for 29 projects that will help tackle climate and nature emergencies in Wales

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From donkeys in Snowdonia to the salmon of the River Usk and everything in between, the Welsh Government has today confirmed 29 projects across Wales that will benefit from the Nature Networks Fund.

The Nature Networks Fund was confirmed in March this year with the Welsh Government promising to invest in the ‘condition and connectivity’ of the protected site network, supported by the ‘active involvement of local communities’.

The Minister will confirm £7m of Welsh Government support for these projects in the Senedd later today where she is expected to say: “Tackling the climate and nature emergencies is at the heart of everything we do – we must protect our environment for future generations to enjoy.

 “Recognising the importance of harnessing the power of local communities, this funding will support citizen science, school engagement programmes and volunteer training to build networks of people engaged with these sites, which are cornerstones of our nature recovery work. 

“We need a ‘Team Wales’ approach if we are to achieve our ambitious plans to restore nature. We want everyone in Wales to see nature – because if people engage with nature, they value nature.”

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.

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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.

National Heritage Memorial Fund has taken responsibility for administering the Nature Networks Fund, Andrew White – Director of The National Lottery Heritage Fund in Wales said:

“From restoring wetlands, to creating rich habitat for wildlife to flourish, it is vital that we preserve and rebuild our natural heritage.

“The Nature Networks scheme, in partnership with the Welsh Government, will allow projects to carry out direct conservation which is essential in protecting our biodiversity, and will also increase public awareness of how and why we need to protect our future.”

Project SIARC (Sharks Inspiring Action and Research with Communities), operating in Carmarthen Bay and Tremadog Bay is just one of the projects to benefit from this announcement.

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The collaborative project led by ZSL (Zoological Society of London) and Natural Resources Wales received £390,000, alongside funding from National Lottery Heritage Fund and On the EDGE Conservation, to carry out vital conservation research on Wales’ marine environment with a strong focus on sharks, skates and rays.

They will use the funding to catalyse links between fishers, researchers, communities and government to help safeguard these species and support a green recovery in Wales.

Joanna Barker, Senior Project Manager at ZSL, said: “We’re excited to scale up our collaboration with fishers and complete innovative research to better understand the amazing shark, skate and ray species that use two of Wales’ Special Areas of Conservation.

“With several opportunities for schools and local communities to be part of Project SIARC, we hope to generate a new appreciation of the underwater environment in Wales and identify ways for a wider range of people to get involved.”

The 29 projects getting funding

Cernydd Carmel restoration, Carmarthenshire County Council – £87,400

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The project would pay for a comprehensive survey to establish the baseline data to begin the process to restore the dry and wet heath to a favourable condition. Will bring community benefits in the form of more informative educational opportunities, opportunities to volunteer in the on-going maintenance of the SAC and providing an exemplar site for study and research into this threatened habitat.

Mewn Dau Gae – Achub Brith y Gors, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority – £99,100

This investment will provide both species with large networks of contiguous, species-rich grassland and heath to survive and thrive. Main focus is to safeguard the Marsh fritillary and Southern damselfly populations, who are hugely dependent upon large grazing animals, preferably cattle, to maintain their special habitats.

Former Tredegar Golf Course Biodiversity Enhancement Project, Newport City Council – £73,000

The construction of a specially designed Sand Martin Hotel on the bank of the River Ebbw at the Former Tredegar Park Golf Course. Gwent Ornithological Trust (GOT) will utilize the building to monitor the sand martin population. Will include other works such as litter removal, knotweed management and provision of Otter Holts and Amphibian enhancements.

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Ciliau Farm building nature’s resilience, Ciliau Farm – £65,000

The farm has four SSSI’s with otters, dormice and an exceptional range of habitats currently under threat in Western Europe. This project will link the SSSSI’s through creating woodland corridors to increase habitat and connectivity. Will host species walks bilingually, Open Days and a student biodiversity camp and work digitally with schools and produce a website for wider engagement.

Monkey Island Biodiversity & Visitor Project, Newport City Council – £88,000

Designated Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC) due to its post-industrial grassland habitat as well as SSSI & SAC. A number of conservation management actions are included in this project to improve biodiversity & to encourage people to visit and appreciate the wildlife.

Shaftsbury Park Old Allotment Restoration Project, Newport City Council – £53,000

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The project will commission a contaminated land survey report, design/site investigation/regulators and licencing proposal as well as a costed work plan to remove / make safe the contaminated land to allow public access once more.

Nature Reserve enhancements for biodiversity resilience, Gwent Wildlife Trust – £379,800

Project will focus on 14 Nature Reserves within the protected site network including rich ancient woodland, flower strewn meadows and fragile wetlands, with 9 SSSI’s and 5 Local Wildlife Sites (LWS) that encompass over 253ha. The project will enhance vulnerable habitats across the protected site network.

Connecting the future: building resilient and sustainable nature Reserves, The Wildlife Trust of South West Wales – £497,700

Project will invest in essential infrastructure work and equipment to enable us to maintain and enhance these sites so that they continue to operate as key components in the Welsh nature network.

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Common Connections, Pembrokeshire Nature Partnership – £200,000

The project focuses on restoring connectivity to improve the ecological resilience of the Northwest Pembrokeshire commons SAC, connecting it to the costal SAC by creating, managing and protecting habitat corridors. Actions target our focal species, the marsh fritillary butterfly, and other notable species.

Coast to Commons, National Trust – £496,580

The project will focus on six areas across Wales where funding would lead to the greatest impact on site condition and wider landscape resilience.

Address underlying causes of inappropriate management, identify innovative solutions such as No-fence collars for cattle, contribute to the circular economy and promote stakeholder engagement.

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Reconnecting the Salmon rivers of Wales, Swansea University – £497,457

The project will help reconnect five iconic Atlantic salmon rivers in Wales (W.Cleddau, E.Cleddau, Usk, Tywi, Teifi) and revert the impacts caused by habitat fragmentation which is a leading loss of river biodiversity and responsible for the decline of salmon and other migratory fish in Wales.

Project SIARC (Sharks inspiring Action and Research with Communities), Zoological Society of London – £390,000

The project will catalyse links between fishers, researchers, communities and government to collaborate and safeguard elasmobranchs such as shark, skate and ray, and support a green recovery in Wales. The project will also include a diverse citizen science aspect, school education programme and will create three new positions in Wales.

Working together for nature in the Elan Valley, Welsh Water Elan Valley Trust – £87,500

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This project will implement priority actions on Elan’s designated sites identified by NRW and informed by the Elan Links HLF scheme.

Llanymynech Golf Club Restoration for Butterflies, Llanymynech Golf Club – £91,400

Part of Llanymynech Hill SSSI, has rare bryophytes and is one of the best sites for butterflies in Wales, with the very rare pearl bordered fritillary recorded there recently. The project will clear scrub and reintroduce some grazing using both sheep and cattle and also to restore and then manage areas of bracken that are infested with Bramble.

Low Density tree planting in protected areas, Coed Cyrmu Cyf – £93,800

The project focuses on native woodland creation in Powys in up to three locations adjacent to SSSIs. The project will bring more woodland into management and create woodland habitats that are not suitable for farming or timber / forestry.

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Nature Reserves Grassland Restoration, Radnorshire Wildlife Trust – £66,800

This project will focus on important areas of unimproved grassland and wetland on Radnorshire Wildlife Trust’s SSSI nature reserves: Burfa Bog, Llanbwchllyn Lake and Gilfach. The focus is on improving infrastructure, purchasing equipment and working with graziers to ensure better grazing management of these sites and make them more resilient.

Lower Wye Valley Nature Networks, Herefordshire Council/Wye Valley ANOB – £258,446

A collaborative project between the Wye Valley ANOB partnership, Gwent Wildlife trust and woodland trust focussing on designated sites in the Wye valley ANOB, their management and connectivity.

Afon Teifi SAC Catchment Phosphate Reduction and Mitigation Project (PRAM Project), Cyngor Sir Ceredigion County Council – £500,000

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This project will directly improve the condition of this SAC through reducing Phosphate inputs, improving water quality and reversing decline in nature.

Dyfi Biodiversity and Habitat Improvements, Osprey Protection Measures and Community Access, Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust – £161,900

Include number of programmes including habitat management, increase surveillance around the Dyfi osprey nest, resetting unmanageable areas of the peat bog back to ecological succession zero and wheelchair accessible boardwalk.

Resilient River Teme, Severn Rivers Trust – £150,000

This project will engage landowners and community groups with the multiple benefits of natural flood management, habitat connectivity and resilient river ecosystems.

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Creating new(t) Connections, Amphibian and Reptile Conservation – £99,694

Deliver direct benefits to improve condition and resilience at five nature reserves within or adjacent to the Deeside & Buckley SAC, improving connectivity and resilience of the site and of the metapopulations of the rare and threatened great crested newt for which it was designated.

Engage the local community in activities that contribute directly to the long term future of the wildlife on the SAC and increasing resilience to climate change and making nature accessible to people.

Restoring the Moelyci SSSI land, Snowdonia Donkeys CIO – £63,300

This project will aim to improve the condition of over 85 acres of SSSI land on Ffarm Moelyci and enable it to be better managed in the future and enjoyed by more people. Strengthen links with researchers and wildlife specialist and organisations, establish more volunteering opportunities and provide training.

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Lake Vyrnwy, RSPB Cymru – £499,500

Project aims to improve the condition and resilience of the RSPB’s landholdings around the Lake Vyrnwy Estate, benefitting from a wider programme of work. This funding would support key conservation actions including blanket bog restoration on former conifer plantation, predator control, landscape scale approaches, including farmer-led support, and enhanced conservation grazing.

Woodland Management in the Meirionnydd, The Woodland Trust (Coed Cadw in Wales) – £210,500

Work on designated sites will deliver against our woodland management plans, which will be approved by Natural Resources Wales. Progress the restoration and preservation of three planted ancient woodland sites in and around the SAC, reducing threats and reversing the decline in nature of these rare and valuable habitats.

Luronium Futures- Montgomery Cana, Canal & River Trust – £357,800

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Site of SSSI due to aquatic, emergent and marginal plant communities of exceptional interest. The towpath affords easy access for local people and visitors. This project aims to improve the canal channel conditions for rare plants and to enhance to conservation status of the SAC.

Restoring resilience to Welsh woodlands, North Wales Wildlife Trust – £500,000

The project will improve the ecological condition and resilience of woodland protected sites located across North Wales, including eligible North Wales Wildlife Trust-owned SSSIs and the Alyn Valley Woods Primary aims.

Upper and middle Dee invasive non-native species management, North Wales Wildlife Trust – £500,000

This project will manage invasive plants on the banks of the Dee between Corwen and Newbridge, including tributaries leading into the SAC and associated land. Will also carry out community engagement including awarding community grants for training and equipment to enable local groups to undertake the long term management of INNS.

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North wales Cotoneaster Control, North Wales Wildlife Trust – £500,000

The project will survey and monitor cotoneaster on 19 SSSIs and one local nature reserve. It will also carry out community engagement including training community groups and volunteers in cotoneaster monitoring and control for longer term site management.

(Lead image: Jake Davies)

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Carmarthenshire

New Year start date for new state-of-the-art Pembrey primary school

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Work will get underway to build a state-of-the-art primary school in Pembrey in the new year.

Carmarthenshire County Council has unveiled plans for its latest new school, part of its multi-million pound Modernising Education Programme, jointly funded by Welsh Government through its 21st Century Schools initiative.

The new modern purpose-built £8.25million primary school will be built next to the existing school site on Ashburnham Road.

On completion it will provide high-quality teaching facilities for 270 primary pupils and 30 nursery pupils.

It will also incorporate a Flying Start facility for younger children, located in a mobile classroom on the current school site.

The school has been designed by Carmarthenshire County Council’s own architects and the work will be carried out by Carmarthenshire-based TRJ Construction Ltd, selected from the South West Wales Regional Contractors Framework.

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Headteacher Helen Jacob said: “Teaching staff, pupils and families are excited and looking forward to seeing our new school come to life. Our children will benefit from seeing every phase of their new school being built right alongside us – it has been designed to enhance learning and teaching and it is very much deserved.”

Artist’s impression of the new Primary School in Pembrey (Image: Carmarthenshire Council)

Cllr Glynog Davies, Cabinet Member for Education and Children’s Services, added: “We are proud to be delivering yet another fantastic new school in Carmarthenshire as part of our Modernising Education Programme.

“The new Ysgol Pen-bre will provide an excellent learning and teaching environment and will also benefit the local community, with many features built into the design that can be used by local people when it opens.

“We look forward to seeing construction start in January.”

By the end of the 2020/21 financial year, Carmarthenshire County Council will have invested £295million in transforming its network of nursery, primary and secondary schools.

Since the programme was launched, 12 new primary schools and two new secondary schools have been built and a number of other schools have been remodelled and refurbished to provide top-class learning and community facilities.

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(Lead image: Carmarthenshire Council)

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Carmarthen Primary school issues warning after pupils as young as EIGHT are watching graphic violence on viral hit Netflix TV show Squid Game

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Richmond Primary School in Carmarthen has issued a warning to parents after reports of Year 4 children attending the school had either watched Squid Game on TV or had downloaded third-party apps associated with the show.

Squid Game has become a viral hit TV show for streaming platform Netflix – and is currently the service’s most-watched ever series.

The South Korean show however has high levels of gore, death, violence, and physical assault. It also has graphic depictions of suicide, murder, and sexual assault.

The plot is based on a group of adult debtors, thieves, and gamblers competing against each other in a series of childhood games for a grand cash prize. However, there is a dark twist to these seemingly innocent games – losing competitors are violently killed off in ways that grow more twisted as the games grow more intense.

A statement on Richard Primary School’s social media said that while Squid Game has a rating of 15+, children and young people are likely to know about the show via word of mouth and because it is so popular on social media. They may be unaware of the extent of gore, death, and violence the show contains. It also focuses on adult themes that are not appropriate for younger sensibilities.

For young people who live with mental health issues, they may be triggered by some of the content

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Mobile App

The “Squid Game Challenge” (also known as K-Game Challenge) is an app for smartphones and tablets that has been released for Android and iOS, and the two systems differ significantly on their age ratings for the game. The iTunes Store rates the app as 12+ (advising of “mild/infrequent horror/fear themes”), while the PEGI rating for Android is just 3+, which means that very young children might be able to download and play the game even with parental controls activated on their device or through Google Play.

The gameplay is frequently interrupted by pop-ups and ads (sometimes appearing while the user is rapidly tapping their screen while attempting to complete the challenge). This could easily lead to unwanted purchases or accidental visits to inappropriate sites beyond the app.

Warning for parents

Richmond Primary School warns: “As a parent or carer, keep a watchful eye on the content that your children are viewing. Speak to them openly and chat about how they have been spending time on their devices; let them ask questions too. Ensure that the parental controls are activated on your child’s device and that age-restricted child profiles are properly set up, as well as any on-demand services available through the family TV (such as Netflix, in this case) to prevent inappropriate content being streamed.

“If you see your child replicating the challenges from the show or hear them talking about scenes and characters from Squid Game, it would be a timely opportunity to discuss with them that the programme is not intended for children, that much of the content would be inappropriate for their age, and that the violence in the series is very realistic and often upsetting.”

(Lead image: Netflix)

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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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