COED Y BONT COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT PROJECT
The new glade that has been created by our volunteers is a great asset to the woodland and will provide a fabulous play area for children within the woodland." – Simon Batty.
The Coed y Bont Community Woodland project was located at Abbey Road, Pontrhydfendigaid. One of the projects objectives was to use the woodland of 24.2 hectares for the benefit of the community, where the local people could have a say and be involved in the work needed to achieve what was agreed upon. The purpose of this project was to pilot new ways that the Coed y Bont Community Woodland Group could engage with the community directly, rather than relying on social media and word of mouth.
From engaging with the community directly, the aim of the project was to encourage children to participate in community events and activities, as well as generating an interest in wildlife. To do this the project worked with the local primary school and youth club whilst getting the children to also engage with the Coed y Bont volunteers. Sequentially this would encourage the children to visit Coed y Bont with their parents and families and participate in activities held there.
As well as generating engagement with the community, another aim of the pilot project was to upskill the current volunteers through different training courses, and to provide them with the necessary equipment to carry out maintenance/conservation work to the standard set by Natural Resources Wales.
The project has:
- Worked with Pontrhydfendigaid Youth Club under the supervision of David Bavin from the Vincent Wildlife Trust and Coed Y Bont Trustee Chris Harris to construct 4 Pine Marten Nest Boxes which are now hidden in secret locations within the Woodland.
- Encouraged children to become more interested in local woodland and wildlife
- Taught children new DIY Skills
- Created a set of 6 wood carvings for information boxes lids. This was done as a partnership between local community artist Grace Young-Monaghan and 9 members of the youth club.
- Provided training for 4 committee members in brush cutter/strimmer maintenance and operation run by Lantra. This training has enabled Coed Y Bont committee to take over the strimming and clearance of the footpaths from NRW using a brush cutter and safety equipment purchased through the project.
- Provided Tools Use and Conservation training course run by Coed Lleol for 11 volunteers
The project activities included
- Local community artist Pod Clare ran 3 sessions with children of the local school of Pontrhydfendigaid to develop interpretation for the Coed y Bont Woodland site. Children visited the Coed Y Bont site to learn about all the flora and fauna that could be found in woodland. The 7 mosaics created are now hung in the welcome shelter at the Coed y Bont Woodland site.
- Working with the local youth group in conjunction with the Vincent Pine Marten Trust to raise awareness of the release of Pine Martens in the local forestry
- Youth club members worked with a local wood carver and created a series of wood carving depicting wild animals and flowers which are now in the Coed y Bont Woodland.
- Organised volunteer work groups to carry out essential maintenance at the Coed y Bont site.
- An open day which was attended by over 80 people some of whom had travelled a considerable distance to attend the event, and said they would definitely come back to explore the site further.
As a result of the project's existence, the community have benefited for numerous reasons. The first one is the engagement and working with the Youth Club and local school of Pontrhydfendigaid. By doing this not only did it bring the community together but the children also learnt some new DIY skills and created excellent artwork to better Coed y Bont.
The artwork created, specifically the Pine Marten boxes not only benefit the community, but it will also benefit the beautiful animals as it will encourage them to use the woodland following their reintroduction to the area.
The training provided for volunteers has also provided them with the skills and ability to carry out conservation work and woodland restoration to keep the Coed y Bont woodland at its best.
The open day also assisted in engaging families, children and people in general in using the woodland for both health and educational purposes, as well as bringing the community together.
This project has received funding through the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.