NRW grant scheme helps community harness the power of nature
A community-led project to design and create an peri-urban wetland in the village of Cwmtyleri, Blaenau Gwent, has helped local residents connect with nature and improve their well-being.
Funded by Natural Resources Wales’ (NRW) Resilient Communities Grant Programme, which launched in June last year, the project provides communities with opportunities to restore and enhance nature in their local areas, particularly in Wales’ most disadvantaged communities.
A ‘green team’ comprising four young people who were at risk of long-term unemployment began working on the 600m2 of wetland in January 2023, with the ambition to enhance biodiversity in the area, provide a valuable accessible green space for local residents to enjoy and make the area more attractive for the community and visitors.
As part of the wetland, a large pond was created to provide a wet natural habitat for amphibians, birds and invertebrates such as dragonflies.
An accessible boardwalk has also been installed, leading to a seated area where residents can sit and take in the views from across the valley.
Three bog areas have been created which have the capacity to hold a large amount of water for slow release during periods of heavy rain. A selection of native water-loving plants are due to be added in the coming weeks, helping to create a buffer from surface water runoff.
The wetland is also being used as an educational resource for the local school with workshops provided by Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council. In addition to classroom learning, pupils have had the opportunity to get hands-on through working with puddle clay and helping to create the willow fencing, boardwalk and pond and bog areas.
The project has received additional funding from Gwent Green Grid Partnership, the National Grid’s Community Matters Fund, and Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council, with support from Gwent Wildlife Trust, Abertillery Learning Community and Draenog Countryside.
Steve Morgan, Head of Operations for South East Wales at NRW said:
It’s really fantastic to see everything the volunteers have achieved at Pentref Tyleri and the positive impact that the project has had on the local community, helping to provide a valuable green space for people to enjoy, as well as an educational resource for local schools.
We know that green spaces also provide numerous benefits for both physical and mental health, and our overall well-being.
Our grant giving function helps us to support ‘on the ground’ projects that enable people to do just that. These projects really benefit the communities and the environment of Wales, helping to provide greater access to nature, tackle loneliness and exclusion and empower people to influence the decisions made in their local areas.
Jamie Thomas, Green Projects Manager who worked on the wetlands said:
The wetland project in collaboration with NRW has provided me with an extraordinary chance to explore various traditional techniques, from puddle clay to willow weaving. Through this experience I have gained valuable knowledge that I aspire to apply in the future. I firmly believe that this project will significantly enhance the biodiversity of the local area, as evident by the increasing presence of local birds and amphibians who are now able to utilize the created space.
Nadine Lewis Teacher & EcoClub coordinator at Abertillery Learning Community said:
Learners from ALC 3-16 Secondary Campus had the amazing opportunity to help develop the Wetlands area in Cwmtillery over the past few months. We learnt lots of new skills during the course of the project and worked collaboratively with members of the local community. We were very eager to attend every week and couldn’t wait to get stuck in to the tasks they had set for us, especially if we were getting muddy!
The Wetlands project helped us to develop our physical and mental well-being as we walked to and from the project, as well as helping us build stronger social skills working with and spending time with members of the wider community.
The hands-on skills we have learnt from the project will help us to further ourselves in the future and can be put into practice in careers such as, gardeners, landscapers, and builders.