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Seven Arches Group restoration work brings community together to revive and restore local wildlife

Members of the Seven Arches Landscape and Wildlife Group who have help restore the area.

Restoration work on the Seven Arches landscape in Cymmer has transformed a once unloved, overgrown, and inaccessible piece of land into a thriving communal space.

Thanks to funding from several local wind farms (Pen y Cymoedd, Ffynnon Oer, Llynfi Afan) a group of volunteers from Cymmer have revived the 40 acres of land surrounding the historic Seven Arches viaduct.

Much of the land had become neglected over many years. By carrying out essential maintenance work the group has been able to reinstate pathways and open-up community areas. Progress is now underway to re-establish a historic pond and revive the presence of important Welsh species, such as palmate newts, common frogs, adders, otters, woodpeckers, dippers, goshawks, and kites to the area.

Chairman of the Seven Arches Landscape and Wildlife Group, Tiff Dew said: “The area surrounding the historic arches was simply not managed or cared for, which is why it had fallen into such a sorry state. The project to restore the land was established back in 2022 and since then over 100 members of the local community have been actively volunteering to make amazing changes.

“The impact on not only the local community but the local wildlife has been incredible. The thick dense woodland, and wild overgrown understory meant that little could grow on the forest floor. By removing the diseased trees and selectively thinning the understory, we have managed to restore light to the forest floor, enabling smaller plants to bloom and wildlife to flourish.  As the ecosystems within the area are being restored, native plants and wildlife create a vital food source encouraging larger mammals to return.

“It’s all about creating the perfect environment to enable nature to thrive.”

Any trees, brash or plants that were removed have been reused to create wildlife shelters, benches, or chippings for the ground in the communal areas, so nothing has gone to waste.

Climate Change Minister Julie James said: “Climate change is threatening our plants and wildlife. We need to do everything we can to protect them. By putting nature at the heart of climate action we can make positive changes.

“It’s wonderful to see groups like the Seven Arches proactively making important changes to their communities and seeing the impact it has made on not only the environment, but the people involved in the project too.

“It just shows that partnership promotes progress. By working together to make small changes, we can have a bigger impact on tackling climate change.”

The Seven Arches project has a five-year management plan, with hope of also restoring and reviving some of the cultural heritage around the site, as well as enabling biodiversity across the landscape and creating a place nature can flourish.