Wildlife Trusts in Wales win environmental awards

Friday 9th October 2015

Pictured left to right are: Rob Parry and Tim Jones from The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales, and Richard Baker and Gemma Bodé from Gwent Wildlife Trust

Wildlife Trusts in Wales have claimed the top two awards at the Biffa Award Ceremony 2015, which recognises people and organisations who use their funding for the benefit of local communities and the environment.

Biffa Award was established in 1997 and supports a wide range of community and environmental projects across the UK. 240 projects were eligible this year, with only 19 shortlisted across five categories. 

At a ceremony last week, The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales won first prize in the ‘Rebuilding Biodiversity’ category for its Parc Slip Biodiversity and Community Engagement Project. 

The project worked with wildlife enthusiasts, volunteers and local farmers to create a host of rare habitats, including wildflower hay meadows, arable fields, marshes and scrapes at the Parc Slip nature reserve in Tondu. The new habitats are already supporting species such as Little-ringed Plover and Lapwing, alongside Harvest Mouse and the U.K. smallest butterfly species, the Small Blue.

Due to the project’s success there has been a dramatic increase in the number of people using the nature reserve and supporting the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales. The project has been able to establish its own local volunteer group, Friends of Parc Slip, and has been successful in engaging with local people and communities, not least local farmers that graze the nature reserve.

As well as the accolade, the award also came with cheque of £1,500 to be used at Parc Slip. This money will now be used to contribute to a new hide overlooking some of the newly created habitats and enabling people to get a bit closer to nature.

Rob Parry, Conservation Manager for The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales, said:

“It is a real honour to be recognised by Biffa Award for a project that has really helped the local community to engage with the nature at Parc Slip. Thank you to Biffa Award and to all our supporters and volunteers who made the project such a success for wildlife.”

Gwent Wildlife Trust was a worthy runner-up in the same category, receiving the ‘Highly Commended’ prize for its water vole project at Magor Marsh nature reserve. Funding from Biffa Award was used to control and monitor the mink population so that voles could be reintroduced in a safe environment. Mink rafts were installed to humanely control numbers around the site, along with vole feeding rafts to help observe the illusive mammal. 

Over 80 volunteers were recruited to help survey the populations of both animals as the project progressed. Since the reintroduction the water vole populations continued to rise in the area, the local residents of Magor have embraced the little mammal as a much loved local asset, and visitor numbers have increased. 

Gemma Bodé, Living Landscapes Manager for Gwent Wildlife Trust, said:

“We are delighted that our project was shortlisted from hundreds of projects from across the UK and that The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales won overall in this category meaning a clean sweep for the Welsh Wildlife Trusts! Huge congratulations should go to Alice Rees and Rebecca Price for developing this project.”

Gillian French, Biffa Award Programme Manager, said:

“Competition in the Rebuilding Biodiversity category was tough this year, with some amazing projects across the UK, but what a great day for Wales! The team at Parc Slip impressed the judges with how they used the Landfill Communities Fund grant as a catalyst to completely change the way that the reserve delivers for biodiversity, and how people of all ages and backgrounds have embraced this beautiful corner of South Wales.”

“The judges were impressed with the honest approach that the Gwent Wildlife Trust took in regard to being open about how to protect water voles – no mink! And then doing something about it in such a participative, open and sustainable way.”