County Voice

Countryside Services

A helping hand to create new homes for Dormice

Volunteers from the Nature for Health project helped to build 20 dormouse nest boxes at Coed Y Morfa in Prestatyn in March.

Around 15 volunteers attended the event to help Countryside Service rangers put together the boxes.

Dormice are an endangered species throughout the UK. The loss of hedgerows and change in management of the woodlands they are found in, has led to a dramatic decline in their numbers, 72% between 1993 and 2014. By creating these nest boxes we hope to support an increase in numbers over the next few years. The boxes were made using locally sourced, non tanalised timber and will be installed and monitored on a site which is important for dormice in Denbighshire.

Nature for Health is part of the Council’s work to protect and enhance the environment and aims to improve people’s lives through health and wellbeing activities, helping individuals and communities in Denbighshire connect with the countryside and adopt healthy habits.

Denbighshire Countryside Service is working in partnership with Denbighshire Housing to deliver the project with support from Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board and Bangor University.

Many thanks to everyone who turned up to help put together the boxes!

If you would like to get involved with Nature for Health in Rhyl or Prestatyn contact 01824 706998.

Making Homes for Dragons on the Denbighshire Dunes

A short stretch of Denbighshire’s coastline calls itself home to a small population of little Welsh dragons. Since their extinction in the 1960’s and their more recent reintroduction to our dune systems, work has been underway to bring Denbighshire’s sand lizard population back to its full glory.

Recently Denbighshire Countryside Services accompanied by Mick Brummage (county reptile recorder) and some dedicated volunteers headed out to the dunes, to undertake some vital habitat management works.

Work was slightly delayed on the morning due to cooler temperatures than expected. Sand lizards, like all reptiles, are ectothermic and rely on their surrounding environment to regulate their body temperature. When the weather is cool they stay hidden within their burrows, making digging in the sand rather risky. Instead, work was postponed until the weather turned warmer and the lizards were out basking.

The work involved the use of a digger to remove and scape back some of the vegetation which had grown quite dense on the dunes. This was done so that we could expose areas of bare sand and reduce the sizes of the shaded areas. This technique is known as sand patching and provides the sand lizards with additional areas for basking, burrowing and for laying their eggs.

In the more sensitive areas of the dunes and where the digger couldn’t gain access, volunteers used spades to carefully remove the vegetation all whilst keeping a watchful eye out for any basking little lizards.

We are all looking forward to monitoring the dunes with their new sand patches over the coming years can’t wait to see our first little Welsh dragon basking on one of their new sand patches!

Many thanks must go to Mick Brummage for all his guidance and help on the day, Arwyn Parry Construction Services Ltd for their delicate and nature conscientious approach to mechanical sand patching, and of course, our dedicated hardworking group of volunteers who are always there with a smile on their face and ready for work.

The 'Nature for Health' Project

Denbighshire Countryside Service and Housing have joined forces for a new ‘Nature for Health’ project, an 18-month pilot scheme with the aim of improving communities mental and physical health through improved access to nature in four core areas; Llangollen, Corwen, Rhyl and Prestatyn. The Nature for Health team have been working to provide a program of activities such as healthy walks, day trips, practical conservation sessions, arts and crafts, wildlife surveys and many more.

In Llangollen we’ve been working closely with the Woodland trust on one of their sites, Pen y Coed, to engage the local community with this wonderful resource. We have had multiple events in the woods such as bird walks, butterfly surveys, mindfulness sessions and the most popular yet- our Breakfast and Bushcraft in the Woods event. Due to the success of these events so far, this month we went in with our volunteers to create a Woodland Classroom area where we can host future events over the summer. We created a log circle, made a Woodland classroom sign and installed an insect hotel!

While over in Corwen, the Nature for Health project has been supporting the recently set up Edeyrnion allotments group. We have been doing practical tasks with volunteers to help prepare the allotments, such as bark chipping the paths and lots of weeding now it’s gotten warmer! As well as lots of dry stone walling workshops along the old stone wall that runs the length of the allotments. Our volunteers have really enjoyed learning this traditional skill and the wall will be a wonderful feature of the allotments once complete!

In Rhyl the volunteers have been doing practical work improving Glan Morfa, a former tip site that has been transformed into a haven for wildlife. They’ve been very busy; improving plant species diversity by laying wildflower turf, maintaining viewpoints along the estuary and planting 2500 trees here this winter as part of ‘Plant!’, a national initiative to plant a tree for every child born in Wales.

Wildflower earth spreading, Glan Morfa

At another former landfill site in Prestatyn, Coed Y Morfa, we have been working closely with the Artisans Collective to transform the Morfa gateway entrance into a welcoming green space, which can be enjoyed by wildlife and people alike! Throughout the winter, we have been working with Keep Wales Tidy to plant a hedgerow along one side of the site, as part of the Long Forest Project. Our new hedgerow is around 300 metres in length, with plans underway to further extend the hedgerow next winter.

Hedge planting, Coed Y Morfa. Image: Gwyl Roche, Keep Wales Tidy

Wildflowers at the Morfa Gateway area

Public engagement with the Nature for Health project has continued to increase since its launch in late 2018. The activities bring communities together, and encourage local residents to take pride in their local green spaces. It provides an alternative form of exercise, in an outdoor setting, as a way of improving mental and physical wellbeing. Our participants enjoy meeting new people, and have reported that the activities act as an ice-breaker for those who find social situations difficult. Volunteers have learnt new skills through the activities, from hedgelaying and woodland management, through to craft sessions such as felt-making and willow weaving. One of our regular volunteers has recently found employment, and has said the project has helped him develop useful skills for his new job. Meanwhile, some volunteers who started attending the Healthy Walks are now leading walks themselves, after receiving training, which has provided opportunities to develop their leadership skills.

Felt Making at the Artisans Collective, Prestatyn

We plan to continue with the Nature for Health project over the coming months in Rhyl, Prestatyn, Llangollen and Corwen, with the aim of engaging more people in local communities. We have many more events coming up: check out the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley AONB or the Denbighshire Countryside Services Facebook Page to see our events.

Please contact or call 07918224784 for more information on how to get involved with the Nature for Health project in Llangollen and Corwen, or / 01824 708313 for Rhyl and Prestatyn.

Find out more about the project for via a video that's been prepared.

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