Community Woodlands to be restored thanks to The National Lottery Heritage Fund

26 November 2020

A neglected and overgrown woodland at a north Cardiff reservoir site is set for a new lease of life after a bid for funding to rejuvenate the area was successful.

The Gwern-y-Bendy woods and part of the Rhyd-y-Penau complex, which sits within the site of Lisvane and Llanishen reservoirs, has successfully secured a grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund which will help restore and enhance the woodland so that it can flourish for decades to come.   

While Welsh Water took over the reservoir site in 2016, for years up until then the woods had been left largely unmanaged.  This in turn has resulted in overgrowth, the emergence of invasive species and left the woods largely inaccessible. 

Now thanks to the Welsh Government Community Woodlands initiative and The National Lottery Heritage Fund, many of these issues will be addressed and the woodland brought under a sustainable management plan.  The intention is to do it all with the help of the local community and Welsh Water’s inaugural ‘Friends of’ group.

Andrew White, Director of The National Lottery Heritage Fund in Wales said:  “Nature is our oldest form of heritage and the need to aid its recovery is urgent and this is why funding landscapes and nature is one of The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s key strategic funding priorities in Wales.

“It has never been more important to look after nature and help people to understand its importance and we are very happy to be in a position to provide funding for the Gwern-y-Bendy woods and Rhyd-y-Penau projects through our ‘Community Woodlands’ programme which we’re running in partnership with the Welsh Government.”

The project will support a woodland management plan which will include the removal of invasive species.  This in turn will enable the regeneration of woodland flora and fauna as well as plant connecting hedgerows which serve as wildlife corridors.  The more sensitive areas of the woodland will be protected through the creation of conservation zones while a learning zone will provide an education amenity for local schools, community and visitors.  The project will also include restoring a historic fishpond within the woodlands to further enhance its biodiversity credentials. 

Peter Perry, Welsh Water’s Chief Executive Officer said: “We are delighted that this funding can support the restoration of a much-loved and valued area.   It is important to Welsh Water that we collaborate with the local community and this project will not only accelerate the restoration of woodlands but will also enable the development of volunteers’ skills and knowledge and  broaden public access as part of the wider development of the site.”

“Once restored the woodland will provide accessible green spaces for the community and will contribute to the health and well-being goals for the people of Cardiff and the surrounding areas.”

Lesley Griffiths, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, said: “As we look to combat both the impact of the climate crisis, and the decline in our biodiversity, helping communities to create and restore habitats across Wales is vital.

“As such, I’m very pleased that Welsh Water have been able to provide new management visions for the woods at both Gwern-y-Bendy and Rhyd-y-Penau, which will help maintain them into the future – this is exactly what our Community Woodlands initiative was devised to do, and I look forward to the submission of similar schemes in future.”

Welsh Water has recently released its plans to develop a visitor hub and associated water activities for the reservoir site.   During the public consultation period, members of the local community were also able register an expression of interest to join a Friends Group and to work with Welsh Water and co-create volunteering events such as helping with conservation management activities to protect and enhance the unique ecology of the site.   Within a 6-week period in excess of 70 registrations were received. Many registrations have expressed an interest in conservation management, some of whom have no prior knowledge but would like the opportunity to learn and care for the local area.  

The Community Woodlands initiative will be able to actively support the newly formed ‘Friends of’ group by offering a supervised training programme that will contribute to the restoration of the woodlands.   The programme will build community capacity and understanding to continue to care for the area in environmentally appropriate ways whilst individuals are also being given the opportunity to learn new skills and reconnect with others and nature in a safe environment.

Any organisations, community groups or charities which would be interested in finding out more about the partnership opportunities which could be available at the site should contact Welsh Water at