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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

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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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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Carmarthenshire

11 year-old boy rediscovers missing orchid on MOD land in Carmarthenshire

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The rare Fen Orchid (Liparis loeselii) has been rediscovered by an 11-year-old boy at Laugharne-Pendine Burrows in Carmarthenshire.

Tristan Moss was out with other members of the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland (BSBI) when he spotted the first Fen Orchid, which was in flower and seed, at the beginning of July. Other members of the society went on to find five further Fen Orchid plants.

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Dubbed the ‘crown jewel’ of sand dunes, the orchid hasn’t been seen on the site since 2003, despite being looked for over a number of years. 

One of the six Fen Orchids recorded at the beginning of July (Image: Richard Pryce)

The recent rediscovery follows years of conservation management efforts between multiple organisations.

Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) ecologists have been working with QinetiQ to implement a detailed programme of conservation management work at Pendine for almost 20 years, as part of the UK-wide MOD Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) Condition Improvement Project. This project supports the management of the 82,000ha of SSSI across the Defence estate. 

Work to restore the Fen Orchid started with excavations, known as ‘scrapes’, to remove nutrient-rich material from several dune slacks back in 2005. This process helps to prevent excessive vegetation growth and maintains a high water table with periodic flooding in the dune slacks – low lying areas in the dune system which provide habitats for rare and specialist species.

In recent years, further carefully planned restoration works have been completed, including scrub clearance and the re-blocking of a large ditch to help restore the sand dunes’ hydrology. Since 2019, the Sands of LIFE (SoLIFE) project, led by Natural Resources Wales, has been responsible for renewed scrub clearance to clear re-grown invasive species and control scrub along the area’s boundary to allow the dune slacks to remain open. 

11-year-old Tristan Moss, who re-discovered the orchid, said: “I’ve been coming to BSBI meetings in Wales since I was a baby, re-finding the fen orchid made this the best year yet.”

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11-year-old Tristan Moss, who re-discovered the orchid (Image: Chris Cheffings)

Oliver Howells, Senior Ecologist, Defence Infrastructure Organisation, said: “The recovery of this iconic species is the culmination of many years of work delivered by DIO and QinetiQ in partnerships with tenants, Natural Resources Wales and the Sands of LIFE project. It’s a genuine success story and a great example of the long-term commitment needed to support nature recovery at this and other important wildlife sites.”

Laura Bowen, Sands of LIFE Project and Monitoring Officer, said: “We are so pleased with the results from the scrub clearance programme that has been completed at Pendine. Scrub and rank vegetation will outcompete specialised, low-growing dune plants. Thanks to this completed work a range of plant species such as the Fen Orchid can thrive.

“SoLIFE have worked closely with site managers, QinetiQ; DIO ecologists; and Natural Resources Wales’ Ruth Harding, Senior Environment Officer for Carmarthenshire to target key areas for restoration.

“We would also like to thank our contractors AJ Butler Contracting, who work meticulously showing great care for sensitive environments, and BSBI, for undertaking essential monitoring surveys and making this fantastic find.”

Jane Mercer, Managing Director of the Long Term Partnering Agreement at QinetiQ, said: “We ensure that we work effectively with partners including DIO, Natural Resources Wales, the Environment Agency and other organisations who look after the UK’s wildlife, to protect the flora and fauna on our sites. We are delighted that the Fen Orchid has been rediscovered at Pendine, and will take steps to ensure it thrives. 

“QinetiQ is responsible for many sites with nature designations, and we take their management and long-term care very seriously, ensuring that our operational impact is minimal. We are proud to be part of the collective that is caring for and maintaining the UK’s wildlife.”

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Richard and Kath Pryce, Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland (BSBI), said: “Sixteen members of the BSBI were at Pendine as part of the annual Carmarthenshire recording week. It was eleven-year-old Tristan Moss who re-found the first Fen Orchid, which was in flower and seed. Following this, another five plants were found by the party, one in flower and seed and the other four, non-flowering.

“Several other rare species were recorded during the day including Fragrant Orchid (Gymnadenia densiflora), Dotted Sedge (Carex punctata) and Adder’s-tongue Fern (Ophioglossum vulgatum).

“Continuing management will seek to further enhance the habitat at Pendine to encourage more Fen Orchids to colonise in future years. Thanks to the staff at the Pendine Establishment for allowing access to the party.”

Lead image: The re-discovered Fen Orchid at Laugharne-Pendine Burrows (Image: Kevin McGinn)

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