Climate and Community were asked by the community council to carry out a tree survey in Copley Wood, Mansel Green Bishopston. This is being done as a precursor to drafting a plan for the wood which the community council and Bishopston residents will be consulted on. We are planning to put a version on the Bishopston Vocal Eyes group page, so people can vote and give comments. As well as talk to local groups in person.
On July 2nd we joined Jenna Higgins a qualified arboriculturist at Copley Woods as we had arranged for her to do the survey work. Jenna has much experience in woodland management and has also completed a coppice management apprentice scheme. So she has the academic and the hands on practical experience. We began by setting up a shelter inside the wood for shade and tea making. Jenna packed her kit and was soon off making notes. Bob and Jules made tea and arranged a visit with Susan Rodaway, the Vocal Eyes coordinator and Pennard Community Councillor. She joined us at lunch time at the camp and told us about Vocal Eyes, its history and success so far. We concluded that the crucial part of the Vocal Eyes process is getting people to register and vote. Susan mentioned the lack of Wifi points in Bishopston, which is needed at venues to help people register.
Later in the afternoon we walked around the site with Jenna, making comments and identifying more plants and trees. The drainage is interesting as it is very variable over the site and creates varied habitats. Willow, Oak and Hazel dominate the older wooded areas, while bracken and bramble dominate the more open areas which have more recently become vegetated. Even in this area we found an Orchid indicating a bio diverse site.
Climate and Community decided to join the Marine Conservation Society at their event on Llangethin beach. The stunning beach at the other end of Rhossili. We saw the face book post from Plastic free Swansea promoting the event, in hindsight the mistake we made was not registering on the Marine Conservation website which informs the organiser you are going. Consequently we turned up in Broughton farm car park at 10.30am on July 15th. Only to find nobody else had turned up!
We decided to pick the beach any way as we had brought litter picking equipment, armed with bags and gloves we walked for 20 minutes through the dunes to find a beautiful stretch of beach. However the rocky area at high tide mark alongside the dunes was full of plastic fragments. We concentrated on the rocky area immediately right from the path where we emerged from the dunes. The more you looked the more you found. Bottle caps, pen casings, broken combs, plastic toys and the list goes on. Fragments of plastic were the most worrying as they had been on the beach and in the sea for a while, beginning to turn into ‘beads’. We picked up everything plastic and made our way along the pebbly rocks.
It reminded me of the Pippi Long Stocking stories where she describes herself as a ‘pickupstuffer’. She is determined to find something useful in the trash. I ask the beach to give me something back for my troubles; it never ceases to answer my call. We collected a baby with a dodgy dictator’s salute, a weird looking diver, a mini sandcastle mould and some tyres. There is a dastardly plot in that picture where the baby has decided to take over the world. Well plastic certainly has and after two and a half hours we had had enough of the heat and sorting plastic.
Llangethin beach needs more cleaning up and could easily justify a multiple day camp, to really give the beach a deep clean. Something to consider for the future. Anyone interested please get in contact
The idea behind Taclu, which translates from Welsh as ‘to put in order’ is to help ordinary people to work together to care for their home space and local environment. We can easily ignore or trivialise doing the most practical ‘no brainer’ activities. Picking up litter will not stop serious environmental problems but surely we have to start somewhere and our own local ‘commons’, the space we share in our village or town is the place to start. Secondly the people we share that common space with are the people we need to work with to make it better.
We set up the litter pickers’ shelter on a sunny saturday morning on Bishopston recreation ground. The first activity was tea making and sorting through equipment. We had no expectations, experience in organising community events tells you to be patient and welcome who ever turns up. Heidi Morgan arrived enthusiastic and encouraging, we began litter picking in Copley Woods. The picture shows Heidi with her neighbour; both chatted enthusiastically about their shared hedgehogs which they delight in watching as they scuffle around their gardens.We picked the litter along Manselfield road which had a lot of old rubbish covered by mulch under the hedges. Some areas need more than surface litter collecting, they need a ‘deep clean’. Back at camp we all had a cup of tea and chat about plans for future picks and the community willow growing project which Climate and Community are looking at facilitating in Bishopston. It was fascinating to find out about Heidi’s family history, a talented grand father who made beautiful willow baskets in the village.
We returned on Sunday, that is the advantage of the shelter we use, (pictured) very easy to erect and take down. The design is based on a militiary dining shelter. Susie arrived in the morning and I suggested walking through the off road pathways in Bishopston village. Susie as a local knows them better than I do so she guided me along. I wouldn’t say there was alot of surface litter but the more you looked, the more you found underhedges, walls etc. We sorted out the recylable materials when we got back.
In the afternoon Theresa arrived and we worked on Northway and further along towards where there are wooded banks on the roadside. In those banks there was a surprising amount of litter. Then we turned back because Theresa needed to return for the rugby. We ended the day by litter picking the carpark and green after the cricketers had gone home.
The following day we had a been asked to help pick up litter for the JCP Swansea Half Marathon by Keep Wales Tidy. Phil Budd the Swansea regional organiser had two groups, we picked from West Cross to Black Pill. The discarded water bottles and gel tubes accumulated along the route. You wonder what people did before plastic water bottles. After arriving at Black pill we moved the land rover onto the front and took the opportunity to litter pick the beach. It is always surprising how much you pick up, again a selection of recent surface litter but also stuff which had been there a long time .
You could tell by the state of decay the litter had undergone. It is tiring work and we made more tea and ate Welsh cakes. In the future we hope to cook our own Welsh cakes and oatcakes at the hub on a griddle. Watch this space.
A Proposal to Improve the Amenity and Educational Value of the Woodland opposite the Recreation Ground in Bishopston.
Climate and Community would like to propose a project in conjunction with Bishopston Community Council with the object of improving and developing the wood for community benefit and as an example of what can done for the future. In addition to enhancing the landscape the project should create community based networks and organisations to undertake and maintain the improvements. Developing the people involved is just as important as managing the woodland.
We should all be concerned with the environmental challenges facing us and the prospect of much worse to come. From the visible litter on our streets, anoxic seas off our coasts to the global destabilised climate; we should do what we can now to bring about changes in behaviour. So that we pass on to our children, an environment that is at least as healthy and vibrant as we had experienced in our youth.
In accord with National Assembly legislation the Swansea regional Public Service Board (PSB) consulted the people on what issues mattered to them in sustaining wellbeing. One of the four resulting challenges is ‘Working with Nature’. This calls for: improving health, improving our knowledge and understanding of the natural environment, maintaining and enhancing biodiversity and reducing our carbon footprint. This project will help Swansea and the Gower meet these challenges. The question as always is: how do we go from aspiration to realisation on the ground? The scrub woodland on the East side of Murton Green Road is a promising site because it is very visible to the public, accessible to the whole community and publically owned.
We propose to use the wood as the initial location for the foundation of a rural skills school to develop and teach appropriate land based skills and ways to socially and economically organise. We think that Ysgol Amgylchedd sums up the aims very well. We would begin with coppice and standard small woodland management and conversion. As well as planting a small willow bed as part of a field based basketry school (a willow craft community). Both of these initiatives can be focused in the wood. As we have demonstrated this winter, the manifestation of the school undertaking works in the wood will be fully portable and low impact. An objective will be to develop locally skilled people who can maintain and develop the wood as an exemplary teaching resource. The network of paths and tracks in the wood can also be maintained and improved for public access and dog walking etc.
We believe that such a project can be initiated and resourced with very modest funds which can be obtained from a variety of sources including project grant funds, donations and self funding economic activities.
In order to facilitate this we would need to undertake an initial survey of the woodland which is best done in April and May. This will then give us time to produce an agreed outline of activities on the ground in the wood. Climate and Community can organise and undertake this in conjunction with Jenna Higgins who is a recognised expert in survey and the associated practice of arboriculture.
We are asking if the Recreation Committee can agree to fund this initial survey. If members of the community are interested in supporting this project please contact us or talk to a community councillor.
Hedges laid, skills learnt, friends made and future work planned: job done…
Like with any course delivery the planning and preparation to get to the first day is the hardest. We set up camp 2 days before to gives us time to organise the insulated land rover tent, gather firewood from Bishopston’s small woodland opposite the recreation ground and give a final sharpening of hedge tools. Nick and Rob were with us for 4 days and Rob’s two daughters joined us for the first day while Lewis Rob’s son joined us for the last 2 days.
The first day was full of introductions, not only to each other but how to cut with tools, find hedge stakes and have a discussion on the wider issues of the importance of hedges in our shared environment. It was very interesting to listen to Georgina and Catherine as young teachers who have experience in teaching environmental issues such as climate change to primary school children.
It was here in which we began the discussion on the hedge styles and those relevant to this area. Of course hedge styles develop in response to particular agricultural and climatic conditions. The Gower has in the past been a sheep farming area coupled with a strong south westerly wind. Consequently high bank low ‘flying hedges’ dominated the area. The recreation ground hedge is not on a bank and does not need to keep sheep in but often restrict human access to certain entry points. Therefore the Midland hedge is the chosen style. However the Midland hedge is a good foundation for any hedge layer because once mastered you can transfer those skills to pretty much tackle any other type with practice.
The second day started with Nick and Rob really getting stuck into pleaching and laying their section of the hedge. The weather being cold but bright enabled the men to make good progress and start understanding firsthand the physical skills as well as all the decisions that are to be made to control shape and density. One of the issues at Bishopston is that the hedge is thin in places and occasionally a large gap will form especially where large trees dominate and suppress the hedge either side or in Bishopston’s case where trees have been removed. For this replanting the gaps are essential but if the hedge needs to be stock or person proof immediately, it is a case of dead hedging the gap. This is where hedge material extracted elsewhere along the hedge is pushed into the gap to create a dense barrier.
On the third day Nick worked on his own through nasty rain, with help from Bob Smith the instructor. A miserable day but sometimes it is necessary to crack on with a job. However it also helps to have a camp nearby where you can stop, sit and get warm by a wood burner, dry yourself and drink tea! The portable camp is designed to be set up close to any job for that precise reason; it makes the logistics much easier and achievable by people of all ages.
Nick completed his 4 day course on the Friday, he was very pleased with what he had learnt and intended to use the skills in his gardening business locally. His feedback ‘I thoroughly enjoyed the experience though the weather was not perfect! Hopefully more people might be enthused to take part in phase 2 in October.’
Rob and his son Lewis completed their course in the final weekend. Both made very good progress on the hedge. All the students hope to do some volunteer hedge laying before the season ends in March.
Emlyn Circle CIC awarded Climate and Community (charity reg 1172500) a small grant of £250 towards materials needed to finish the litter pickers hub, planned to go out in early spring. The hub is a portable set up, set to pop up at public locations needing a tidy up. It is called ‘TACLU!’ It has all the resources needed to pick litter as well as a café and craft area so volunteers can relax, chat and create their own screen printed patches, T shirts or bags to take home to promote the Taclu! project and litter picking in general. We hope to have a litter picker’s event in Newcastle Emlyn in March/April. www.climateandcommunity.org.uk
It is always good to make local connections and Emlyn Circle CIC is a well stocked reasonably priced charity shop with friendly staff and local customers who are often up for a chat. A shop I use regularly for myself as well as for the charity (their 50p mugs are brilliant!) Velma Dixon is the manageress and founder of the enterprise; she set up a Community Interest Company in 2011. After taking advice on the best legal structure, the CIC came out as the most flexible for what she aimed to do. Velma had previously worked in charity shops and knew the business. Accepting second hand clothing and household items donated by local people then after some cleaning and care selling them on from a shop premises. Velma quickly attracted a dedicated team of volunteers to work in the shop. https://www.facebook.com/groups/730683897099210/
The profits build up in a community fund which has been distributed to over 30 local associations, societies, schools and town festivals all based in Newcastle Emlyn and directly benefiting Emlyn residents. Velma and the volunteers regularly meet up to make decisions on how to distribute the community fund.
The local community are very generous in the goods they donate and customers of the shop appreciate very reasonably priced goods. This work directly helps local families, pensioners, those of lower incomes and local residents who simply want a bargain. It also encourages the recycling and re-use of second hand goods.
It is a win win win situation all round, so thank you Emlyn circle!
How much is learning a skill worth? It is a good question in these price sensitive times. Take hedge laying, a multitude of skills and knowledge are needed to create a good job. To pick these up you need a thorough learning experience which gives you a foundation on which you can go off on your own and take on a hedge yourself. To get to that stage you need:
An experienced and trusted instructor with the patience and generosity to explain and demonstrate as many times as necessary to the student the skills and knowledge of the craft. Climate and Community only use experienced tutors who know their stuff, Bob Smith has taught and worked on hedges for x years and is not afraid of correcting you if you are not getting it right. Honest feedback is essential for a student to progress
A well chosen hedge which is ready for laying and not over-grown (these can be difficult to find). Bishopston recreation ground’s hedge is at the right age for being laid (x-y years). Your work will be on display to the whole community so we will keep the standard of work high. The instructor takes on this responsibility.
Have a range of quality tools to work with; we have a comprehensive hand tool collection which requires maintenance and storage. These are all overheads the charity pays for all year round.
Enough time to practice, in a small group so the learning sinks in! Some hedge laying courses run for one or two days, we would describe this as more of a ‘taster’ but we have found a minimum of four days are required for the average student to become proficient enough to take on a hedge by themselves. This is the objective of the course, autonomy and confidence to get out there and hedge lay!
The charity is happy to assist unwaged or unemployed students to take part. So anyone interested who cannot afford the full price is welcome to talk to us. However the charity relies on students paying the full price because £50 per day per student is what it actually costs the charity to put the course on. We have no external funding and rely on course fees to pay the overheads. We believe this should be financially sustainable because if it is we can repeat courses rather than it being a one off. We are about building relations with the community and being of service to it but we need to pay our overheads.
Climate and Community has been established and motivated by care and concern for the environment and are looking to connect with those in the community to teach demonstrate and facilitate best practice in maintaining and sustaining the environment. We believe a key issue in addressing problems such as the warming climate is to evolve new economic arrangements that make it possible for people to work in harmony with nature. This means equipping them with the right skills and knowledge.
Hi, we are beginning to organise and get ready for our first real activities in the field. These will be a rural skills hedge laying training course in Murton/Bishopston in mid February followed by the first ‘Taclu!’ litter pick in March. We are focusing our energy on getting the equipment ready for both events.
Teaching hedge laying in February is going to be a challenge for our camping skills as our instructor Bob Smith will have to spend a couple of weeks camped out near the hedge in Murton. We have decided to upgrade some of our summer camp kit for winter service. This means making and fitting insulation to an ex-military tent (2.7m by 3m) which can fit onto the back of a Land Rover and high enough to stand up in. A heated space is essential for any winter camping so we are also modifying and fitting a wood burner. With luck (its a tricky project) it will be accompanied with a wooden insulated floor that comes apart in movable pieces. We have been collecting and assessing materials by way of what we have and what we need. We like to use recycled materials wherever possible and we have kindly been given some pre used wood by Owen Williams who has supported our work for a number of years. Thanks Owen it all helps! This wood should provide some of the framework for a floor. The pic is Jules Wagstaff pulling nails out the recycled wood. We will update you with progress and more pics as we make up the kit so watch this space
What we have learnt over the years is that it is always worth asking for help or stuff, because if you don’t ask you don’t get! The charity bought a pre-owned Stellar Ebony kettle for the wood burner in the Land Rover tent but it was missing its whistle cap. So we asked the Stellar distributor Horwood Ltd if they could help and they have very kindly offered to give us a cap free of charge. So Thank-you Horwood Ltd.
We are also working on the Litter Pickers Hub which will be our portable shelter and loo for use at litter sites. We have a 12’x12’ ex-military tent, which is being fitted out with an ex-Swedish army wood burner. This will be used for heating the space and making hot water for tea/coffee and soup making. We have some chairs and hope to make some fold up tables. The portable loo shelter is a tent we have to make from scratch but we have some plans already in the pipeline. No shortage of things to do if we are going to be presentable for litter picking next year. Once we have obtained or made the kit we will have to make boxes and find containers so it packs neatly down for transport.
At the moment we are short of funds to complete making the kit described above. We need some plywood and other items. These will be put on a list on the donate page in case anyone can help us with money or materials. You would be amazed at how much value for money we can get from your financial support!
Last week Bob Smith, laid a 17 metre stretch of hedge belonging to Bishopston community council running along the perimeter of the recreation ground. It is a demonstration of what can be done to improve our local environment. If all goes well Climate and Community will be working with Bishopston Community Council to hold a hedge laying course this season at the recreation ground. Bob Smith has instructed hedgelaying and been involved in practical environmental projects for 25 years or more. For upcoming course dates check our website and facebook page.
Climate and Community has been established and motivated by care and concern for the environment we will be passing on to future generations. We are looking to connect with community organisations to facilitate, demonstrate and promote best practice in maintaining and sustaining the environment.
We believe a key issue in addressing problems such as the warming climate is to evolve new economic arrangements that make it possible to work in harmony with nature. We are seeking to break the addiction to the easy energy of fossil fuels which makes a sustainable habitat apparently unaffordable according to current economic cost analysis.