Dŵr Cymru Environment Fund reaches milestone

4 July 2024

With this week marking Wales Nature Week (29 June – 7 July), Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water is calling on community groups from across Wales to make the most of money that is available through their Environment Fund.

The fund, which aims to provide financial support for projects that benefit biodiversity and nature has already reached a significant milestone, having invested over £3m to date on a wide variety of projects.

By enhancing biodiversity and benefiting species or habitats that are protected for nature conservation, the scheme has a particular focus on helping foster community engagement with their local environment. Open to non-profit organisations and community groups, it has already had considerable success.

This includes a recent project in Trimsaran, where members of the local community, schoolchildren and the Dŵr Cymru biodiversity team came together to create a flowering meadow that will become a focal point for the village’s community centre.

With preparatory work carried out by Ground Control and South Wales Tree Services, a wild cherry tree was planted as the centre piece, with volunteers from Ysgol Gymunedol Trimsaran in attendance to learn more about the importance of biodiversity and looking after the planet and its wildlife. The children helped with the scattering of wildflower seeds before being given wildflower and bee ‘bombs’ they could take away to create small pockets of biodiversity near to their own homes and gardens.

For Trimsaran Community Councillor Mari Arthur, the funding from Dŵr Cymru’s Environment Fund has supported the community with their outdoor biodiversity projects, and it is hoped it will also have a longer-term impact. She said, "The Dŵr Cymru team involved the village school's eco committee in a planting and seeding day, and the children enjoyed getting involved, learned through practical action, and felt ownership of the areas they helped develop. They will be coming back to the park for regular visits to see the wildflower gardens bloom.

“The works to date have already made a big difference to the park, which is at the heart of this deprived community. Place-making is so important and we appreciate Dŵr Cymru's support."

Dŵr Cymru are also actively working to boost biodiversity at their sites across the country, with a number of recent projects starting to have a noticeable impact on their surrounding ecology.

This includes a ‘green hay’ wildflower meadow project at their Llys-y-frân visitor centre in Pembrokeshire. Planted two years ago with seeds sourced from the National Botanical Gardens of Wales, and with the help of local volunteers from the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, the site has seen an increase in native species. There are now hopes to expand the project to other parts of the site, and allow members of the local community to benefit from cuttings to take home to help boost biodiversity further afield.

Peter Haskett, a ranger who has been an instrumental part of the project, said, “Llys-y-frân is a very important part of the local community. You get a lot of regular locals who pop in, and we have a chat and they can see how we’re improving week on week, and year by year.

“A big part of what we’re trying to do is to improve biodiversity, along with nature and wildlife in general. We’ve particularly looked at the grassland areas to make them better, and to also improve the interactions that the public have with them, so that they can learn about their importance and also have their own wildflower projects at home.

“We did our first surveys this year after the initial planting two years ago, and the results have been really positive. We’re getting a massive reduction in grass species and an increase in wildflowers, insects and pollinators, which also has a wider benefit in terms of attracting more bird species and so forth.

“We’re hopeful that in time people will be able to come here and have cuttings of the green hay, just as we were able to from the National Botanic Gardens of Wales, so that in the longer term there will be a much wider benefit than just the positive impact it is having at Llys-y-frân.”

Community groups are now being urged to make sure they benefit from the funding that is on offer, and help boost nature in their local areas.

Gemma Williams, Dŵr Cymru’s Biodiversity and Ecology Advisor, said, “We take our responsibility to look after wildlife and positively impact biodiversity very seriously, and the Environment Fund is a key part of our work in helping to involve local communities in this area.

“It’s a source of immense pride that we’ve already distributed over £3m to projects such as the one at the heart of Trimsaran’s community. Whether it is a small one-off project, or a larger multi-year one, through the fund we’re keen on working with as many groups as possible over the coming years to ensure that biodiversity and nature recovery is at the heart of the work that we do with the communities that we serve.”

Further information on Dŵr Cymru’s Environment Fund can be found by searching Welsh Water Environment Fund here.