A new partnership between the public and private sectors is set to drive forward plans to turn an abandoned coal mine in South Wales into a community woodland.
Natural Resources Wales (NRW) has joined forces with the Ford Motor Company to create the new woodland on the site of the former Coegnant Colliery and Maesteg Washery in the Upper Llynfi Valley, a project funded by the Welsh Government Nature Fund.
The partnership will see the two organisations work with local people over the next 10 years to develop and maintain the woods.
Work to convert the 30 hectare site began earlier this month when diggers moved in to prepare the ground ready for the planting of 60,000 trees over the winter.
Emyr Roberts, Chief Executive of Natural Resources Wales, said:
“The Llynfi project gives us the opportunity to show how we can take forward the sustainable management of natural resources and deliver benefits for local communities.
“Having green spaces on our doorstep is not just good for wildlife, it also helps people feel better about their community and provides an area to unwind and exercise.
“NRW’s purpose is to ensure that our environment and natural resources are maintained, enhanced and used. But we cannot do this alone and there is enormous value in developing partnerships with communities and the private sector.
“Our partnership with Ford Motors on this 10-year programme will ensure wide-ranging benefits for the environment, economy and the many people who will use it for recreation.”
More than 300 of Ford’s employees live in the vicinity of the Llynfi Valley.
Mark Thomas, Bridgend Plant Sustainability Manager, said:
“Ford is very excited to be Natural Resources Wales’ partner in the development of a woodland in the Llynfi Valley.
“This encapsulates our sustainability strategy to interconnect our products, plants, people and the communities in which we operate by giving the provision of attractive green space for a community that hosts so many of Ford’s employees.
“We look forward to many hours of staff volunteering time spent in the woodland.”
The Llynfi project will not only improve the environment of the Llynfi Valley by increasing biodiversity, reducing water run-off and absorbing pollution but will also encourage people to spend more time outside and increase their activity levels.
The partnership with Ford will support tree planting and developing green exercise facilities providing a space for health and well-being activities for the community.
Mari Sibley, Principal Surveyor for NRW, said:
“We have been working with the local community to develop plans to create a woodland which will be a place for people to relax, exercise and socialise in a tranquil setting.
“And we will be planting more than 60,000 trees across the site which will include a mixture of broadleaves, fruit and ornamental trees which can be enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities.”