A PROJECT to improve water quality, biodiversity and restore a natural habitat has been given a boost.
Forestry students from Coleg Cambria Llysfasi are helping former learner Jonathan Hulson deliver the Woodlands for Water Project, in partnership with North Wales Wildlife Trust.
Driven by the Welsh Government’s Sustainable Management Scheme, the two-year initiative aims to create, connect and enhance habitats within the catchments of the Afon Alun and Afon Chwiler in north east Wales, with a particular focus on improving water resource management.
Stakeholders include the Welsh Dee Trust, Sustainable Forest Management, the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and Flintshire and Denbighshire councils.
“The scheme promotes sustainable land management and works with farmers and land managers within the river catchments, particularly those looking to improve soil health and water resource management, and the integration of trees and productive woodland on the farm,” said Jonathan.
“New woodland creation and woodland management plans will be supported, including shelterbelts, natural riverbank protection and support for agroforestry schemes using tree cages. On steep marginal land, usually dominated by gorse and bracken, we will be promoting the innovative method of ‘no-fence tree planting’ – where trees are planted in protective micro-sites to escape browsing by livestock.”
He added: “Neglected hedgerows will be restored by filling in gaps, double fencing and the demonstration of a new method of rejuvenating hedgerows mechanically, known as wildlife hedge-laying.”
“Through these innovative approaches to woodland creation and the enhancement of wooded habitats on farms, there will be lasting benefits for farm productivity, water quality and biodiversity within the catchments of the Afon Alun and Afon Chwiler.”
Andy White, Lead Forestry Lecturer at Llysfasi, said this was a positive opportunity for their learners.
“Our students have been helping restore habitats and improve water quality in the Afon Alun and Chwiler catchments, by planting native trees along stream sides in the Clwydian Hills,” he said.
“The project provides excellent learning opportunities for our Forestry, Countryside and Tilhill Diploma students, to help develop their knowledge and skills whilst benefiting the community and the environment at large.”
Woodlands for Water has received funding through the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 – Sustainable Management Scheme, which is supported by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.