£2.5m National Lottery Funding for the Gwent Living Levels.

Tuesday 13th March 2018

The Gwent Levels

A grant of £2.5 million from the National Lottery has been secured to help recapture, enhance and celebrate the unique heritage of the historic Gwent Levels landscape.

Thanks to National Lottery players, this funding will help to promote and reconnect people to the heritage, wildlife and wild beauty of this historic landscape and make a significant contribution to the well-being of local people and future generations. 

The announcement follows years of planning and groundwork by the Living Levels partners - which include Gwent Wildlife Trust - working closely with local communities to design a scheme which should make a real difference to local people.

During the next three and a half years, the Gwent Levels will benefit from a series of projects designed to restore and enhance the natural heritage of the area, to develop a far greater appreciation of the value of the landscape through improving interpretation, promotion and access and, finally, to inspire people to learn about and participate in the heritage of the Levels.

The partnership is led by RSPB Cymru and includes three local authorities - Cardiff, Newport and Monmouthshire and Living Levels partners: Natural Resources Wales, Gwent Wildlife Trust, Gwent Archives, Buglife Cymru, Bumblebee Conservation Trust, the National Trust, Cardiff Story Museum and Sustrans.

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.The significant funding will help protect the landscape as well as inspire local 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 this fascinating 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.
“These fragile places must be cared for for the future, and if carefully managed, they can also play a vital role in growing our nation’s economy.
“Thanks to National Lottery players we now have the chance to support and look after this area, whilst highlighting its benefits to everyone who lives and works there.”

Gwent Wildlife Trust’s Deputy Chief Executive Gemma Bodé said: “The Gwent Levels is Wales’ equivalent of the Amazon Rainforest – a precious and unique area, universally recognised for its puzzle board of landscapes and species, so we are delighted to be working with our Living Levels partners, stakeholders and the local community to protect and enhance this special place.
“The reens and ditches of the Levels, contain a rich soup of wildlife and are home to thousands of creatures from endangered water voles and otters to rare beetles, dragonflies and a host of birds and rare plants.
“Many people however, do not know of its fascinating history and the rich wildlife that can be found there. The Living Levels project aims to build on this and ensure that by the end of it, people, young and old, will be able to shout about the hidden heritage of the Gwent Levels.”

The £2.5m 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. The partners have also developed an ambitious programme to enforce illegal incidents of fly-tipping and encourage behaviour change which, alongside work with volunteers, will result in more community engagement with the landscape and a greater appreciation of the incredible value of the area’s natural and historic heritage assets.

This 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.

The partners are confident that the many projects in the Living Levels programme will bring the stories from this fascinating landscape to life, many of which are yet untold and promise to engage and captivate both old and new visitors to the Gwent Levels.

To find out more about the Living Levels programme or how you can get involved, visit www.livinglevels.org.uk or email Alison Boyes, Living Levels Programme Manager: alison.boyes@rspb.org.uk


About the Landscape Partnership programme

The funding has been provided through HLF’s Landscape Partnership programme, which provides grants for schemes aiming to conserve areas of distinctive landscape character. HLF’s Landscape Partnership programme – which has now been running for over a decade - is the most significant grant scheme available for landscape-scale projects. Across the UK, £146m has been invested in 86 different areas helping forge new partnerships between public and community bodies and ensuring people are better equipped to understand and tackle the needs of their local landscapes.

Living Levels Partnership

Living Levels formally brings together like-minded stakeholders to work together to collectively recapture, enhance and celebrate the historic area for all to enjoy. The Partnership came together in 2014 and includes RSPB Cymru (lead body), Gwent Wildlife Trust (GWT), Natural Resources Wales (NRW), Newport City Council (NCC), Monmouthshire County Council (MCC), City of Cardiff Council (CCC), Gwent Archives (GA), Cardiff Story Museum, Sustrans, National Trust, Bumblebee Conservation Trust and Bug Life Cymru.