New partnership launches to support action for wildlife in Monmouthshire and Newport

Monmouthshire and Newport Local Nature Partnership has been established to build on the successful work of the previous Newport Biodiversity Partnership and extended coverage of coordinated action for nature to include the neighbouring county of Monmouthshire. Moving to a single, joint-authority Partnership will deliver projects and share expertise to promote action for nature and will allow the partnership to work at a larger than county scale and deliver more for wildlife and people.

The Monmouthshire and Newport LNP will carry out informed and targeted local nature recovery action to deliver multiple benefits, including contributing to well-being objectives and supporting a Green Recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic by providing expert advice and support and ensuring the best action is carried out in suitable locations to provide multiple benefits for people and wildlife.

The partnership has been strengthened by the Local Nature Partnership (LNP) Cymru project which is a nationwide network of partnerships covering every local authority and National Park Authorities in Wales, collectively constituting the LNP Cymru network.  The project is funded by Welsh Government via the Enabling Natural Resources and Wellbeing Grant (ENRAW) which started in 2019 and will run until 2022.

The Monmouthshire and Newport LNP includes a broad range of partners including statutory bodies, public bodies, environmental charities, friends of and community groups, academics, wildlife recorders and interested members of the public.  The partnership also works in alignment with the regional Area Statement and the Natural Resources Wales people and places teams.

The role of the LNP Coordinator (Sali Palmer) and Support Coordinator (Lucy Arnold-Matthews) is to establish local priorities for action and compile a Local Nature Recover Action Plan (NRAP). The partnerships input in to other strategies and plans and will run events and activities raise awareness, highlight locally distinct nature based culture and participation in citizen science projects. 

The LNP has already supported a project at Barrack Hill Site of Importance for Nature Conservation to restore the grassland and woodland at the site which will enhance the area’s ability to support nature recovery. There has been increased active conservation management, communication and engagement with local residents. Local residents will have better accessibility to well-managed, high quality natural green space which improves and supports health and well-being.

In Monmouthshire, the LNP have supported the Neglected Grasslands project restoring grasslands in three publicly accessible sites in Abergavenny, which have become even more important to the local communities during the recent coronavirus crisis.

Deputy Leader of Monmouthshire County Council, Councillor Richard John said: “I’m delighted to announce this collaborative venture aimed at protecting one of our most important assets – nature. We have a wealth of beautiful wildlife across Gwent which helps our county thrive. This initiative is just another excellent piece of work ongoing in Monmouthshire to protect our natural environment, to ensure we can continue enjoying the benefits it creates for generations to come.”

Cllr Roger Jeavons, deputy leader of Newport City Council, said “We’re pleased to be partnering with our neighbours in Monmouthshire on this exciting project. The new local nature partnership allows us to expand our biodiversity work, and will deliver wider benefits for wildlife and people within our two counties.”

ENDS

Notes to editor:

The Local Nature Partnership is a vital resource in enabling public authorities to:

  • Play a part in nature recovery through increasing ecosystem resilience and restoration.
  • Act as a delivery mechanism to help address climate emergency commitments through the use of nature-based solutions.
  • Contribute to meeting the Biodiversity & Ecosystem Resilience (Section 6) Duty under the Environment (Wales) Act 2016.
  • Contribute to the Well-being for Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 duties including delivering objectives of the well-being plan.
  • Harness technical expertise and evidence to input into plans and relevant strategies e.g. Green Infrastructure Assessments and strategies.
  • Increase capacity to engage and recruit volunteers, businesses and non-traditional groups in nature recovery.
  • Flexibly work at the appropriate scale; regional, landscape, ward-level and individual site level.
  • Cross-boundary working between LNPs is facilitated by the Wales wide approach.

The local NRAP for Monmouthshire and Newport, will convey the aims of Wales-wide plan to: embed biodiversity through decision making at all levels; safeguard species and habitats of principal importance for species conservation; increase ecosystem resilience by restoring degraded habitats and new habitat creation; tackle key pressures on species and habitats; and, improve our evidence, understanding and monitoring.

Engaging with the LNP will help people, communities, public bodies, and businesses in Monmouthshire and Newport to reap a diverse range of environmental, social, economic, and cultural benefits based on collaborative nature recovery. Through the project we will aim to make more organisations and people are aware of the extent, and role, of the local nature on their patch. More nature recovery projects will benefit from specialist data, advice or support.  More partner organisations will be engaged in LNP activities. More people will be able to access, contribute to and benefit from nature-based activities.  Nature recovery and the benefits provided will be embedded in to local and national policies and decision-making at all levels. 

Barrack Hill SINC is located in a northern suburb of Newport and designated for its large mosaic of semi-improved wet and dry natural grassland, scrub, bracken and woodland. Neighbouring a small open space which boundaries a large housing estate managed and owned by Housing Associations, the site is badly affected by invasive non-native species and fly-tipping.  The LNP supported project to restore the site will enhance the area’s ability to support nature recovery, through increased active conservation management, communication and engagement with local residents. Local residents will have better accessibility to better managed, high quality natural green space which improves and supports health and wellbeing, which will lead to positive and responsible use by the community.

The three publicly accessible sites in Abergavenny are at Ross Road, Ostringen Close and Old Hereford Road Cemetery; they have become neglected with poor management and large areas of species-poor scrub (predominantly bramble and snowberry) encroachment. The scrub encroachment reduces the land available for the priority grassland habitats. The project will remove scrub, invasive species and carry out tree works, as well as agreeing appropriate grass management regimes going forward.  At the old cemetery, works have an additional heritage benefit as scrub will be removed from around monuments currently completely obscured by bramble. 


Countryside Sites And Public Rights Across Monmouthshire Soar 400% As Residents Enjoy The Outdoors

Figures from our counters show that there has been a dramatic increase (400% on Wales Coast Path) in the use of our sites and public rights of way since lockdown. Unfortunately, this increased usage has also come at a price of a rise in anti-social behaviour with more litter and problems with dogs. We are working on a campaign to promote responsible behaviour and safe outdoor recreation with Brecon Beacons National Park, National Trust, Cadw and Welsh Water. To help Natural Resources Wales have launched a new countryside code.

Only 1 route in Monmouthshire remains closed under COVID regulations but remains under constant review. Our web page “Stay Active, Stay Safe” is being constantly updated to reflect any changes. We have also updated our website to include the final Countryside Access Improvement Plan, our Delivery Plan and Countryside Access Policy, Protocol and Operational Management Report.

With our colleagues in Highways and Planning, Countryside Access is working in partnership with the National Trust and we are promoting the use of Fairfield Car Park in Abergavenny as an alternative to the Llanwenarth car park, to seek to minimise issues at that honeypot arrival point. The National Trust is finalising a new Sugar Loaf path guide to assist. Also, waymarkers have been sprayed on the pavements for the public to follow.
The team has been busy inspecting and ensuring our promoted routes are safe to use and we are pleased that we have now been able to assist The Narth Footpath Group to restart its activities to help with this. “Friends of Castle Meadows” have also returned and increased their usual task days, carrying out essential hog weed surveys and other environmental tasks. Their work has contributed to Castle Meadows Countryside Site in Abergavenny, being awarded a coveted Green Flag Award.

We are pleased to announce that we have been awarded a new improvement grant, by Welsh Government, of £83,412. The funding is being spent on materials for Penallt Volunteer Group to improve paths which will then help them promote a series of local walks. A new bridge and signage improvements are also being purchased to provide a new circular route in Llanfair Kilgeddin. Other funding is being spent to improve accessibility on routes at Llanbadoc, Undy and Rogiet Country Park, along with a new recycled boardwalk at Mathern and Shirenewton. Other funding for on-going maintenance and improvement projects has also been obtained for the Wales Coast Path and Offa’s Dyke Path National Trail and also for two Active Travel projects. Watch out for more information on these projects in next month’s newsletter and on social media as they evolve.

“Many thanks for enabling our Footpath Group to restart its activities. We had a good first working group on Friday with five volunteers and the new arrangements worked very well. Thank you for keeping them straightforward and practical and trusting us to get on with the job.

We have plenty more work to do over the coming months and look forward to when we might be able to set up some working groups with the wardens again to deal with some of the bigger tasks.”

Brian Mahony The Narth Footpath Group


MonLife Outdoor Adventure

The Adventure ahead

Undy Primary school were one of the last school groups to attended Gilwern Outdoor Education Centre before the lockdown restrictions were introduced. 44 smiling faces appeared on Wednesday morning full of anticipation and a dash fear about the adventurous program Mr Jones and I had planned and for many the first few nights away from home. Caving, canoeing, forest skills and a session in the high ropes were planned over the two and a half-day residential so it was busy from the start.

Beds made, sandwiches packed, equipment issued and they were off to the beautiful locations that surround the centre and over the next few days’ memories and experiences are made that stay with you for a lifetime.
I can always tell how a school group is engaging by the instructors’ feedback and as normal Undy were fantastic. The staff pride themselves on supporting and encouraging individuals when it’s needed but also allowing those who require that extra challenge the chance to test their abilities. For one young person just putting on the climbing harness and being on the wall is a massive achievement as is racing to the top as many time as possible for another. This is where the skill and experience of the staff are required and that’s why when outdoor learning is done correctly, it’s so positive for the development of pupils and translates back into the classroom and life. I look forward to the day when we can start delivering adventurous outdoor activities and seeing those smiling faces again.

The Adventurer seeker “I enjoyed this trip it showed that I could do much more than my belief. The caving was very fun because I can challenge myself, forest fun was good because I could learn to survive and canoeing was fun because we learnt how to save someone if their boat sunk. All around Gilwern was a life-changing experience. I am very thankful that we went. I enjoyed caving the most because I learnt not to give up and I tried things that I hadn’t done before”

Undy Pupil