Neath Port Talbot Council’s Working with Nature project has now been running for three years and is a big success having ‘smashed’ its targets for the initiative.
Launched in the Autumn of 2016, the project’s overall aim is to build the capacity of volunteers and community groups in Neath Port Talbot in taking a more active role in the management of the County Borough’s local, natural green spaces, while at the same time fostering a greater understanding and connection with the natural environment.
In the past three years, Working with Nature staff have been lucky enough to meet 740 different people coming from 32 different Neath Port Talbot communities.
Catrin Evans, Neath Port Talbot Council’s Countryside and Wildlife Team Leader, said:
“We have had an amazing time running the project and getting to explore and manage so many of Neath Port Talbot’s nature sites. To date, we’ve carried out management activities across 21 different sites. A mammoth effort by our small team and only made possible by the support of our dedicated volunteers!
“We’ve signed up more than 30 committed volunteers and have a regular group of 10 who make sure our nature sites remain healthy, full of wildlife and accessible to all of you.
“We have welcomed you into your local nature sites and enjoyed watching people learn, grow and share knowledge and experience as well as enjoying better health and well-being through involvement in the activities!
“From woodcarving and willow weaving to the detailed study of tree identification, we have loved every second of the project and hope those of you who have attended any of our events have taken something from them and gained a greater appreciation for nature.”
Volunteers have done all types of work, helping to create new paths and woodland classrooms, plus installing fencing, planting trees and orchards and clearing invasive species and managing scrub.
Cllr Annette Wingrave, Neath Port Talbot Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Sustainable Development, said:
“Neath Port Talbot is full of majestic and magnificent nature sites containing a wealth of wildlife and a whole range of woodland, beach and waterfall walks, maintained and made accessible in part by our fantastic volunteer network!
“We are now three years into this project and a huge amount of progress has been made on improving our sites for biodiversity and community use. We could not have achieved so much without a team of dedicated and hardworking volunteers.”
The decline of biodiversity is widely documented and the Working with Nature project is looking to bring about local changes that will contribute towards a long term recovery of biodiversity.
The project also hopes to improve employability skills and opportunities through work experience in conservation and to create a better understanding of our natural environment through engagement and awareness raising.
Its aims are also to enhance the local environment through volunteer activities and to improve the well-being of our rural residents through outdoor based activities.
Under the supervision of project officers are delivering a wide range of outdoor activities and volunteering opportunities, working in partnership with with Dyffryn Clydach community council and Pontardawe Town Council. Sites are under active conservation management, participants are gaining a greater appreciation of their local areas and volunteers are increasing their skills and knowledge in conservation and countryside management.
Working with Nature volunteers have also helped carry out countryside management across the borough as well as contributing their time towards ecological surveying, litter picks and even researching the fascinating history of some of Neath Port Talbot’s nature sites.
If you have benefited from the project or are passionate about nature and want to get involved, we’d love to hear from you to discuss how you can help and what you can do.
We have a variety of volunteer roles available so no matter your background, we have something suitable for you.
If you’d like to volunteer, or learn more about the project, visit https://www.npt.gov.uk/18054 or email [email protected] .
The project is supported by the Welsh Government Rural Communities Rural Development Programme (RDP) which is jointly funded by the European Union as part of the Common Agricultural Policy through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government, the Welsh Government Single Revenue Grant, Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council and 2 Community Councils: Dyffryn Clydach CC and Pontardawe Town Council.