Shropshire Star

Quarter of a million awarded for improvements at historic nature reserve and ancient oak woodland

Quarter of a million pounds has been awarded to support improvements at historic nature reserve and ancient oak woodland

Sunlight burning through autumnal oak woodland in Great Wood that surrounds Gregynog Hall in Mid Wales. Picture: Bradley Carr.

The ‘Welcome Home to Nature’ programme at Gregynog, one of Wales’ leading country estates, has been given £246,966 through the Welsh Government’s Nature Networks Fund.

The funding supports nature recovery and encourages more public access to some of Wales’ most special natural environments.

Gregynog’s project is one of 17 in Wales set to benefit from Welsh Government conservation funding totalling £3.78 million.

The investment in the National Nature Reserve and two areas of Special Scientific Interest at Gregynog, located at Tregynon, near Newtown, will make a huge difference.

Gregynog’s Great Wood, an internationally significant ancient oak woodland, is home to rare lichens and to birds such as pied flycatcher, willow tits and wood warblers.

The grounds at Gregynog are open every day and people regularly visit to enjoy a walk in the woods and a coffee in the Courtyard café.

However, rutted tracks make access difficult for both visitors with mobility issues and those with young children and the woodland walks can be muddy for much of the year.

The Nature Network Fund support will allow Gregynog to repair and top dress both the drives to Bwlch y Ffridd, improve drainage and fill all pot holes.

A new, accessible path around the lily pond will be created and the pond will be restored to create an accessible 360 degree bird hide on the island, accessed by a new bridge.

Invasive plants will also be cleared from the pond over two years.

All walks on the estate with have new signage and pathways and mapping will be improved while 50 bird boxes will be installed with help from Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust, which will also run public events for the next two years and monitor wildlife on the estate.

A children’s playground and covered picnic benches for adults and children using sustainable materials will be installed together with a bike rack for visitors and staff at the Courtyard entrance.

Meadow flowers and flowering specimen trees will be planted along the drives and work will continue to restore the walled gardens.

The Nature Networks Fund is delivered by The National Lottery Heritage Fund in Wales on behalf of the Welsh Government and in partnership with Natural Resources Wales.

Gregynog’s chair Carole-Anne Davies said: “We are very proud of our team and their work on the ‘Welcome Home to Nature’ programme. The project allows us to enhance and broaden visitor access and experience, as well as protect and nurture our richly biodiverse reserve as a haven for nature.

"It also helps consolidate our partnerships, opening up further potential for collaboration and helping us to reveal and share Gregynog’s magic with more people than ever – exploring the joy that comes with integrating nature, science and creativity.”

Ruth Jenkins, head of natural resource management policy at Natural Resources Wales, said: “We are delighted to see these projects, each driving forward the practical action needed to address what is one of the most urgent challenges of our times.

“These projects will seek to recover species and habitats through collaboration among a wide range of land owners and organisations. They are all superb and diverse examples of the exciting restoration and community engagement that is a critically needed step to bring about the recovery of nature in Wales.”

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