Valleys Regional Park (VRP) has been awarded more than £850,000 for its Guardian Scheme.
In total, £864,051 of funding has been approved by the Rural Development Programme. It follows funding of £981,655 awarded by the Welsh European Funding Office in December to support the ongoing delivery of VRP hosted by Bridgend County Borough Council to the summer of 2023.
This will allow the continuation of the scheme which has seen a team of VRP Guardians, who have a range of expertise in fields such as practical conservation, sustainability and health, lead activities for residents to work on land-based projects and to help protect and restore our valleys landscape.
Guardians will work at the VRP Discovery Gateways, as well as some community hubs, to help local people better connect with the landscape through the development of volunteering opportunities and activities with a focus on skills development, health and wellbeing.
The activities are aimed at a range of ages and will, for example, include activities such as creating community gardens, growing projects, bush-craft, wellbeing walks and many more nature-based activities.
With this funding in place the Guardians will continue to complement the work being done across the VRP partnership to develop new projects which can be replicated across the region and to secure the long-term approach to enhancing and making the most of the superb landscape we have in our Valleys.
Phil Lewis, who is leading on the VRP, said: “The Guardians will help to connect people with the beautiful landscapes around them, the nature on their doorsteps, and also with each other.
“Conservation and restoration undertaken by volunteers, such as a significant contributions to path and bridge repair at Discovery Gateways, or involvement in food growing projects, also brings additional benefits to the wider community.
“Using a whole valleys approach, the VRP is here to promote and celebrate the restoration of our valleys landscape, making sure we bring together the health of the land, the people and the economy in everything that we do.”
Bridgend County Borough Council Leader Huw David said: “It’s great news that funding has been secured to allow the Guardians to continue their work in helping residents to make the most of the wonderful landscape, natural resources and cultural assets around us.
“The council is very proud to host the VRP and to champion the historic and picturesque towns, villages and landscapes in our Valleys region.”
The VRP partnership involves 13 local authorities across South Wales from Torfaen in the east to Carmarthenshire in the west, the four health boards in the region, Natural Resources Wales, Welsh Government and many other stakeholders from the third and public sectors.