Upper Tawe Valley & the ‘Wild Communities’ project

The Upper Tawe Valley/Cwm Tawe Uchaf has been identified as an important area for wildlife.

The former Brecknock Wildlife Trust ran this project from 2015 to 2018.

It offers a range of habitats from limestone grassland to Rhos pasture and ancient woodland. It supports rare species such as the Marsh Fritillary butterfly.

Brecknock Wildlife Trust have been awarded a grant of £313,757 from the Big Lottery to deliver it’s ‘Wild Communities’ project based in Cwm Tawe Uchaf (Upper Swansea Valley). This 3 year project will work closely with local people and organisations to help revitalise deprived communities and their local environment.

What is the ‘Wild Communities’ project?

The project took a community wide approach which involved extensive partnership working with organisations such as MIND, Jobcentre Plus and Communities First, allowing us to work with their clients and tackle deprivation.

Cwm Tawe Uchaf and the area around Ystradgynlais in particular is an area of high deprivation with some parts listed as being in the top 10% most deprived areas of Wales. Through regular practical conservation workdays, guided walks and workshops the project provided valuable opportunities for local unemployed people and those experiencing physical and mental ill health to access training, learn new skills and meet new people. In turn, this will see an increase in their employability and improved health and well-being.

The project also delivered environmental education sessions through schools and community events to engage with children, giving them experiences that will spark an interest in their wild surrounding landscapes.

What is special about the wildlife in this area?

The former Brecknock Wildlife Trust, now The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales has five nature reserves in the Cwm Tawe Uchaf area and was excited about the potential positive contribution the project could make to these valuable sites and their wildlife. The project worked on the following reserves: Allt Rhongyr and Craig y Rhiwarth near Pen y cae and Ystradfawr, Wern Plemys and Cae Lynden in Ystradgynlais and Gurnos area.

These sites contain a rich mix of wildflower meadow, rhos pasture and woodland and are some of the best sites in Wales for the rare marsh fritillary butterfly. As well as managing these reserves for the benefit of wildlife, the project aimed to increase the number of local people using and enjoying these sites through community events and improved access. The project also looked to work on other community green spaces including school grounds and local gardens, creating wildlife havens and further opportunities for learning.

What is happening?

The project delivered a range of activities such as:

  • Volunteer nature reserve workdays and wildlife surveys on our 5 nature reserves. We meet on the 1st and 3rd Friday of each month, 10:15am-3pm.
  •  Monthly guided wildlife walks to local sites in the Upper Tawe Valley and surrounding Waterfall Country
  •  Weekly wildlife gardening sessions every Wednesday 2-4pm at Penrhos Allotment
  • Ystradgynlais Library Garden Project on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month, 10am-12pm
  • Ystradgynlais Hospital Wild and Well-being Garden Project on the last Tuesday of each month, 10am-3pm
  •  A programme of events and talks for all ages
    The project will particularly look to provide opportunities for local unemployed people and those experiencing physical and mental ill health to access training, learn new skills and meet new people through:
  •  Monthly wildlife inspired workshops in partnership with local schools and Mind
  •  Access to training courses with accreditation

Do you want to know more or get involved?

If you are interested in finding out about current opportunities in the area please contact Pauline Hill on  07957 292235.