A UK-wide charity has secured £1.5 million in funding to deliver a project that improves health and wellbeing across Wales by providing opportunities for people to take part in outdoor nature-based programmes.
The Small Woods Association, a UK-wide charity which has headquarters in Shropshire and its Welsh base in Machynlleth, was formed in 1988 as the national organisation for small woodlands, and has an impressive track record in managing social forestry projects, as well as promoting sustainable management of small woodlands for social, environmental and economic benefit.
Coed Lleol (Small Woods Wales) has been running health and wellbeing activities through its Actif Woods Wales programme since 2010. The money will enable them to develop pioneering greenspace and woodland hubs, which will focus on meeting the needs of local communities for social prescribing, community activity, training and skills development, and improvements to and protection of the local environment.
Katy Harris, Funding and Communications Manager, said:
“We are delighted to receive this funding – it will be invaluable in supporting, developing and enhancing the important work we are already delivering across Wales.
“Outdoor nature-based health and wellbeing activities are proving ever more successful in supporting people to overcome the many challenges of lifestyle-related illness such as obesity and lack of physical exercise; and to improve their mental and emotional wellbeing.
“The opportunity to interact with nature in a woodland setting is a truly beneficial experience and something an increasing number of people are realising can have a positive impact on their lives.”
The funding will see Coed Lleol collaborating with the public, private and charitable sectors, bringing together expertise from a diverse range of backgrounds to work in a number of locations including Gwynedd, Anglesey, Denbighshire/Flintshire, Wrexham, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire, Rhondda and Merthyr.
The pan-Wales project, entitled Outdoor Health and Green Infrastructure, is funded by the Enabling Natural Resources and Wellbeing (ENRaW) Fund, part of the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government. It is also match-funded by the Healthy and Active Fund (HAF), run by Sports Council Wales.
For more information about Small Wood’s work in Wales, visit https://www.smallwoods.org.uk/en/coedlleol/