A GRANT of £2.5million has been secured for a series of projects designed to restore and enhance the historic Gwent Levels.

It comes after years of planning by a Living Levels partnership with RSPB Cymru and including Cardiff, Newport and Monmouthshire councils, Natural Resources Wales, Gwent Wildlife Trust, Gwent Archives, Buglife Cymru, Bumblebee Conservation Trust, the National Trust, Cardiff Story Museum and Sustrans.

The projects aim to develop a greater appreciation of the value of the landscape through improving interpretation, promotion and access and to inspire people to learn about and participate in the heritage of the Levels.

Funding will restore key heritage features across the Levels, including its ancient orchards and habitats for rare pollinating insects like the shrill carder bee, one of the UK’s rarest bees.

It will also develop an ambitious programme to enforce illegal incidents of fly-tipping and result in more community engagement with the landscape and a greater appreciation of the value of the area’s natural and historic heritage assets.

Katie-jo Luxton, director of RSPB Cymru, lead partner in the Living Levels said: "The Living Levels funding offers a fantastic opportunity to restore and re-discover this fascinating, rural area, a world away from city life as a ‘green lung’ for the people of the big cities of Cardiff, Newport and the South Wales valleys.

"We want to celebrate the Gwent Levels and make the wonderful nature and history of this area more accessible to everyone to enjoy and explore.

"We can’t wait to work with the people and communities who use and care about this unique landscape. RSPB Cymru is very proud to be leading this ambitious partnership, which we believe will help build a more sustainable future for the Levels – its wildlife, people and economy.”

Funding will help protect the landscape as well as inspire people and organisations to come together to develop their full economic potential, bringing increased prosperity and other regeneration benefits to the area.

Investment in new walking and cycling routes will make it easier for a wide range of audiences to access and interpret the history and heritage of the area.

Richard Bellamy, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Wales, added: “Our stunning landscapes define the very character of Wales and are as much a part of who we are as our history, language and rugby. They are as loved by the people who call Wales ‘home’ as by the tens of thousands of tourists who visit them."

The investment will see more than 1,000 training and volunteering opportunities created and will include projects with farmers and landowners, schools and colleges and a wide range of community groups from across the three local authority boundaries of Cardiff, Newport and Monmouthshire.

To find out more or how you can get involved, visit livinglevels.org.uk or email Alison Boyes on alison.boyes@rspb.org.uk.