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Hedgerow heroes help boost Gower biodiversity and celebrate rural heritage

Volunteers are celebrating the first anniversary of a scheme that has seen more than 1,500 trees planted in Gower.

Hedgerow365

The Gower Hedgerow Hub has also maintained more than 2.5km of precious hedgerows.

The work has seen improved environments for the woodland bird, insect, small mammal, bat, butterfly and wild flower populations.

The project is managed by Swansea Council and delivered in partnership with Natural Resources Wales, the National Trust, the Gower Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Partnership and The Gower Society.

It is a legacy of the Gower Landscape Partnership which benefited from £1.3m of funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Robert Francis-Davies, the council's cabinet member for investment, regeneration and tourism, said: "Our hedgerow hero volunteers are doing great things for our local environment - I applaud their efforts and urge others to get involved.

"They enjoy maintaining valuable hedgerows for a number of reasons, including health, wellbeing, fitness and sociability. They are helping to maintain a great rural tradition and are helping nature thrive.

"As a council we are committed to protecting and making the most of our area's natural resources and biodiversity; it is one of our priorities for the future."

The Gower Hedgerow Hub launched in October last year. It provides practical opportunities for people to learn about hedges and help look after this humble but important habitat. The project celebrates the cultural and ecological importance of hedgerows across Gower and Swansea - hedges are a lifeline for wildlife in urban and rural landscapes.

Trees planted so far include hawthorn, blackthorn, crab apple, hazel and spindle. Evidence of improved biodiversity includes a sighting of a rare long horned bee in the Vile, Rhossili.

As well as volunteering and training opportunities in skills such as hedgelaying, tree planting and foraging, there are opportunities for community groups to get involved.

The project will be working with Swansea Community Farm this autumn to lay a hedge planted by their volunteers 10 years ago.

Cllr Francis-Davies said: "This is all about making Gower even more beautiful, supporting even more wildlife and teaching people traditional skills and methods that are specific to Gower.

"Our Hedgerow Heroes - volunteers and landowners - are at the heart of the project, and we're looking for more people to work with. People who want to lend a hand, learn new skills or have hedges that need some TLC, please get involved!"

Free volunteer sessions are held every Tuesday until December 10 in locations across Gower and Swansea. Those interested should book online (see below) or phone 01792 636992.

Other forthcoming activities include hands-on introduction to hedgelaying courses on October 19-20 and November 18-19, seed gathering on October 13 and traditional besom broom making on October 26.

Photo: Volunteering in the sun with the Gower Hedgerow Hub.

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