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Community butterfly project set to give nature a helping hand

Swansea University bioscientists are helping a community create a butterfly and wildlife garden in the heart of a Swansea village. 

Three Crosses Butterfly Project, led by senior lecturer Hazel Nichols, sees volunteers working together to help reverse nature’s decline by creating a garden at the village’s community centre.

Working with Three Crosses Community Council, the project has been supported by environmental charities Keep Wales Tidy and the Woodland Trust.

Dr Nichols said: “It feels fantastic to create a space for wildlife; we will have meadow areas and a mini-woodland that will be a great boost for nature. We will be monitoring the wildlife we find in the garden over the coming years and are already looking for more local places to create new natural habitats.”

The project is using a butterfly package provided by Keep Wales Tidy’s Local Places for Nature programme which included 10 bags of soil/compost, a selection of native plants, tools, a long, raised bed, and a trellis. It was enhanced by a package of native trees provided by the Woodland Trust.

Ian Donaldson, of Three Crosses Community Council, said: “The package has enabled us to create the wildlife refuge and community garden on unused land in the heart of the village.”

Initial planting was a success despite Covid restrictions limiting the number of participants but he is now looking forward to Crwys Primary School, the Women’s Institute and residents working together to help build bug houses, monitor wildlife and carry out maintenance.

“It is a great opportunity to spread involvement across both existing groups and residents new to volunteering,” he said.

Senior biosciences lecturer Dr Kevin Arbuckle praised residents for getting behind the new garden.

“Working with - rather than just in - communities is really important for efforts to help our native wildlife. Humans are part of the environment too and without their support and buy-in the best-intentioned efforts are likely to fail.” 

“Having this local conservation project very much community-led will help the local people reap the benefits as well as hopefully ensuring longer term success."

Dr Nichols added: “UK wildlife has been in decline in recent years so it needs all the help it can get, and community projects such as this can make a real difference.”

Deputy Chief Executive for Keep Wales Tidy, Louise Tambini said: “More than ever people are recognising the value of nature to the health and wellbeing of communities. We are delighted that groups like Three Crosses have the opportunity to make a real difference.”

The initiative is part of a wider £5 million Welsh Government Local Places for Nature fund committed to acquiring, restoring and enhancing nature on our doorsteps.

Community groups and organisations can still apply to Keep Wales Tidy for Local Places for Nature packages

Schools and communities should visit the Woodland Trust to apply for free trees.

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