At the end of last year, a partnership of 12 organisations and local authorities in Wales, was awarded £321,100, with a further £2.5 million ringfenced, from the Heritage Lottery Fund to help recapture, enhance and tell the story of the unique Gwent Levels landscape – a patchwork of tranquil fertile fields and historic watercourses sweeping the Severn Estuary coastline between Cardiff and Chepstow.
Unlike most of Wales, this is a place of big skies and wide horizons. The landscape is one of the finest examples of a landscape crafted by man and is the largest area of coastal and floodplain grazing marsh in Wales. Reclaimed from the sea in Roman times, the maintenance of this ancient drainage system of field ditches is vital to protect communities from flooding – a threat which is becoming ever more pertinent with climate change and rising tides.
Including seven Sites of Special Scientific Interest, the mosaic of ditches supports aquatic plants and insects unique to Wales which boasts populations of lapwing, otter, water vole, the great diving beetle and one of the UK’s rarest bumblebees, the shrill carder bee. The area also hosts a number of specialist plants including frogbit, arrowhead and Wolffia arrhiza – the smallest flowering plant in the world.
The project aims to reconnect the communities and visitors to the landscape by working with volunteers, farmers, local groups, businesses and communities to collectively showcase the historical heritage. It aims to bring the stories from this fascinating landscape to life, many of which are yet untold and promises to engage and captivate both old and new visitors to the Gwent Levels.
We want to make sure that we celebrate all that the Levels has to offer; its wildlife, its people and its economy. Over the next twelve months, the Partnership will be developing a programme of activities to help shape the project. This will involve a series of community engagement events to ensure the views and wishes of local people are embedded into the heart of the project. If you would like to find out more about the project or tell us a story about the Levels, we would love to hear from you. Visit our Twitter page @ourlivinglevels / Facebook page ‘Our Living Levels’ , give us a call on 01633 292982 or look out for us ‘popping-up’ in your locality!
Bumblebee Conservation Trust http://bumblebeeconservation.org/
Cardiff Story Museum http://cardiffstory.com/
City of Cardiff Council https://www.cardiff.gov.uk/
Gwent Archives www.gwentarchives.gov.uk/
Gwent Wildlife Trust www.gwentwildlife.org/
Monmouthshire County Council www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/
Newport City Council www.newport.gov.uk/