IT'S THE WEEKEND: Discover the wild side of Gwent
2:20pm Sunday 15th September 2013 in News
A young lady learning how to make wildwood sculptures at the recent Woodfest event at the Silent Valley Nature Reserve near Ebbw Vale. (1015901)
AUTUMN may be on the approach, but there’s no reason why you can’t still get outdoors and for young wildlife enthusiasts, Gwent is just the place.
The Gwent Wildlife Trust is all about encouraging youngsters and adults to take an interest in what’s outside and between education programmes and public events, the Trust welcome 5,000- 6,000 children through their doors each year.
People and Wildlife manager, Denis(CORR) Jackson, started working at the trust seven years ago.
He said: “People are starting to wake up to the health benefits of getting kids outside.
“It’s the stuff out there that keeps us all alive. I think we have ignored it for too long.”
The Trust is a registered charity with more than 10,000 members, and is a leading local force for wildlife with nearly 50 years of working to promote and conserve Gwent’s wildlife. It manages 30 nature reserves as well as running a far-reaching community education programme.
As Mr Jackson explains, there is plenty to explore right on our doorstep.
He said: “It’s a great place. We have got a bit of coast, forests. We have so much here.
“Even in the most industrial areas in the valleys, there’s lots of wildlife to be found- but people just don’t realise it’s there. “
Both adults and children can get enjoyment from getting out in the wild. According to Mr Jackson, pond dipping is especially popular as you never know what you might find in your net. The Dormice courses are in the highest demand and can get booked up months in advance.
One of the key things for anyone involved in conservation work is learning to identify things and this is something you can do from a very young age.
Mr Jackson’s advice for budding conservationists is: “Get out and join a local group or join a trust and learn from experts how to tell certain species from others.”
The trust offers something for all ages, from young families to teenagers. At Magor Marsh, a group of teens called the Wildlife Warriors meet after school on Wednesdays from 6.30-6.30pm. Here, the youngsters are taught various bushcraft skills.
“It’s been excellent,” said Denis.
“We get youngsters now coming back as junior leaders."
The work conservationists do is vital to tackling the threats wildlife face and Gwent is no different. The biggest threats come from controlled developments like the M4 expansion or the Circuit of Wales Track in Ebbw Vale.
Whether it’s hedgehogs or bees there’s a huge range of courses available. This month’s events include a plant identification day at Pen y fan Pond which is organised in collaboration with The Botanical Society of the British Isles. Many of the events are free but booking is essential.
For information on events and bookings, visit www.gwentwildlife.org