The Rise of Reedbeds – Part Two

AlvinNicholas

Here’s an interview with ALVIN NICHOLAS, who’s the Commons Officer at the UNESCO heritage site of Forgotten Landscapes and the famous author of Supernatural Wales.  Alvin will also be leading a walk at the Blaenavon Walking Festival.
In this interview Alvin gives us a wonderful insight into how Forgotten Landscapes is helping to save wildlife and nature with reedbeds.

Can you tell us what reedbeds are all about at Forgotten Landscapes?
Reedbeds are being introduced to Forgotten Landscapes to help change the natural environment, encourage wildlife, protect the land and habitat.
When the project started two years ago we had to come up with ideas on how we could best create new habitats and encourage wildlife to increase in the area.  Due to the type of terrain and wetlands over the Forgotten Landscape area, we felt one of the best things to do was to build up reedbeds in certain areas.

Phragmites reeds on project site

Phragmites reeds on project site

How are reedbeds beneficial to people?
The reedbeds offer all sorts of benefits to people.  Firstly, they help to preserve nature and the environment.  They create a whole new biodiversity for the area and will hopefully bring back extinct species to Forgotten Landscapes.  They also make the area cleaner, especially when you consider the waste that was created from the past industrial era.  Mine and coal spoil water now runs through the reedbeds and are naturally cleaned up through a series of biological filters.  They therefore clean up the environment, help the eco system and improve the quality of life for people living in the area.

2011-11-05 Reed Bed Planting 002What’s the basic concept and idea behind putting in a reed bed in a landscape like South Wales?

Reedbeds are quite scarce in the UK, but offer huge opportunities to the natural environment.  Conservationists believe there are huge benefits to wildlife.  Reedbeds can be a stepping stone for wildlife that are looking to migrate north due to the change in climate/ global warming, they act as special areas of protection to vulnerable wildlife.  The other important role of reed beds is that they help make the environment a nicer place for the communities near by.

Did you have many other alternative choices for conservation ideas? If so what were they?
We had a few other ideas, such as re-wetting the bogs to make a vaster wildlife area, however the scale was a bit too ambitious as it would have been a slower process.

What will happen to the reed beds in ten years time?
In ten years time we hope to see the reed bed areas buzzing with life, some of the reeds have already grown as high as seven foot tall, so hopefully we can see them fully established in the landscape.  We hope to have covered two hectare2011-11-05  Reed Bed Planting 007s of area with reed beds. The last time this was done was for the Gwent Wetlands.  So far this project has seen volunteers planting over 20,000 reeds.  The community has come together to really improve the environment for themselves, future generations and the wildlife around.  It has given the volunteers and people from the area a real sense of ownership and pride of the area where they come from.

Are Forgotten Landscape reed beds unique in anyway?
Yes, they are very unique for the fact they involve three different types of landscapes.  The levels of landscapes range from an old agricultural areas, to industrial wasteland but are now being reclaimed by nature.  The land is now being developed for the future; reed beds are part of this conservation project.

How can visitors make the most out of the reed beds?
Visitors can get involved by volunteering and joining to help make a difference.  They can enjoy walks around the reed beds, knowing that they are surrounded by natural beauty and clean air.  Some new developments have also been constructed for visitors to understand the wildlife and everything that is going on.  A new wildlife “hide screen” has been constructed for bird watchers wanting to view the wildlife without disturbing it and there are also plenty of walks as well.

Why are reed beds suited for the Forgotten Landscape environment?
The Forgotten Landscape is perfect for the reed beds as it is a fairly wet and boggy area, which makes it ideal for these plants.  The area also has a fair altitude, which is key for attracting unique species on the nature side of things.

Wildlife at Forgotten Landscapes

Wildlife at Forgotten Landscapes

What wildlife do you hope will become part of the habitat?
We hope to see plenty of invertebrates, amphibians, mammals and breeding birds such as Reed Bunting, Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler and Grasshopper Warbler coming to the area.  There is also an opportunity to encourage water voles to come back to the area as well.

How can visitors and volunteers get involved?
There are two ways to get involved with the reed bed project.  People can sign up as volunteers to help monitor the wildlife activities, or they can help plant and more reeds.

This project is all about the community that the people live in, what has been so special about this project is that it is the actions of local people that has made the big difference.  We want to make the community proud of where they live, respect the environment around them and help improve the lives of others.

To learn more about volunteering contact Forgotten Landscapes today.
Contact: 
Sarah Lewis, Forgotten Landscapes Volunteer Recruitment & Training Officer
E-mail: sarah.lewis@torfaen.gov.uk   Telephone: 01495 742335