Overview of the Tawe
The Tawe catchment is a fascinating and beautiful place with a vibrant history it ranges from the wild uplands of the Brecon Beacons to the heart of Abertawe (Swansea), which literally means mouth of the Tawe and is Wales’ second largest city. The Tawe has carried Swansea through the ages and the lower reaches bear the scars of the areas industrial past. The uplands offer a high conservation value with numerous designated sites including Special areas of Conservation, Sites of Special Scientific Interest and the Brecon Beacons National Park. Following the demise of manufacturing, tourism has become increasingly important to the local economy and the area provides a diverse offering of recreational activities and attractions.
Our approach in the Tawe
In preparation for these new duties, we have been developing the approach in the Tawe. There are three strands to our work in the Tawe Catchment these are;
Collecting Evidence – This process is ongoing but we have brought together evidence to help us and others understand the key issues in the Tawe Catchment.
Delivering projects – Working through the nature fund we are delivering 9 projects that will help us to understand how we can deliver area based planning locally and showcase how by working with others we can deliver multiple benefits for the environment, people and the economy.
Engaging stakeholders – We are working with a wide range of stakeholders to understand what the key issues and opportunities are for managing our natural resources in the Tawe Catchment. Working with Swansea Environmental Forum we are holding a number of consultation events throughout the catchment. They will hold a conference on the 30th June which will aim to inform, inspire and involve people in Natural Resource Management
Case Study – Eastside Swansea
Often overlooked, the east of Swansea presents a great opportunity to improve access to (and the links between) three areas of currently underutilised green and blue space. Kilvey Hill, Crymlyn Bog and The Tawe corridor are all situated adjacent to the communities of St Thomas, Bonymaen and Port Tennant and are a short walk from Swansea city centre. Each area offers some incredible opportunities: Kilvey Hill has fantastic views over Swansea Bay and the Tawe valley and opportunities for walking and mountain biking, Crymlyn Bog is the largest lowland bog in the UK and has fascinating and diverse wildlife including the Raft Spider and the river Tawe corridor offers walking, cycling, fishing, canoeing and a rich industrial heritage.
Before Natural Resources Wales was formed, the Forestry Commission dealt with the woodland estate on the hill, Countryside Council for Wales were concerned with Crymlyn Bog, and the Environment Agency Wales focussed on the river Tawe. Now, Kilvey hill is a good example where we are taking an integrated approach to natural resources management. An internal group is identifying opportunities for managing these areas to provide more natural benefits for the local community.
As well as quick wins to improve these areas, the group has commissioned a project called ‘Swansea Eastside’ where urban designers are looking at improving the accessibility and connectivity of the three areas of green space and link these fantastic resources with the city including the Copperopolis area at Morfa.
Case Study – ‘Our Bay’, Swansea Bay NRM Event
In partnership with Swansea University we have a project to look at optimising the management of Swansea Bay to deliver more for local people and the environment. An event was held in March with local communities, organisations and stakeholders with an interest in the Bay. It was attended by 70+ people including Matthew Quinn from WG who gave a talk and contributed to all the workshop sessions. We produced a video for the event with interviews from people who use the Bay so everyone could get a feel for the importance of the bay and it’s variety of uses.
We experimented with a voting system to gain consensus on some of the key aspects and decisions throughout the day. The event was a real success with a great atmosphere and we were able to generate instant outcomes such as the formation of a Swansea Bay management group of which 80% of attendees were keen to be involved.