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A community project in the Machynlleth area has been recognised as the best of its kind in Wales.
Pennal 2050 is a collaborative initiative to improve the area for nature and residents alike. It was chosen as winner in the Landscapes, Nature and Forestry section at the “Celebration of Rural Wales” event in Builth Wells, held by Rural Wales Network to mark 20 years of European funding.
The environmental project, supported by the Sustainable Management Scheme, has allowed local people to plan actions to meet challenges on a landscape level. Collaboration, expertise, ideas, technology and science best practices have been shared on a journey to improve the area for current and future generations.
Partneriaeth Pennal, a group of 40 innovative farming partners, is the lead organisation in Pennal 2050- a five- year collaborative project stretching from Dyfi Bridge almost to Aberdyfi - which has the support of Natural Resources Wales, Snowdonia National Park and Gwynedd County Council as well as local organisations such as Pennal Community Council, New Dovey Fishery Association, local schools and businesses.
Chair of the Pennal 2050 Steering Group James Brunton is delighted to hear the news:
“It is great that our efforts have been recognised nationally by this award. A lot of hard work is going in to develop the various strands of our programme such as a “slo-flo” scheme with 60 interventions of culverts, leaky dams and woody debris, placed in forestry and agricultural areas to encourage water onto adjoining land so creating new habitats which may reduce the flow into the Dyfi below”.
The project is working with several ground-breaking international University-led projects which include research on remote sensing, tree canopy rainfall absorption and mapping for endangered species. Pennal 2050 has also been visited by UK and international visitors, including a government representative from Northern India, keen to see at first-hand how community-led initiatives can work.
And residents and visitors to Pennal now have a vibrant landmark in the village, thanks to the project - which funded by the Welsh Government Rural Communities’ Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.
This new visual interpretation of the landscape has been officially launched with the semi-circular landscape map supported by the funding from the Pennal 2050 project with its design and installation co-ordinated by Pennal Community Council.
Council Chair Meirion Roberts thanked the panel’s designers and Pennal 2050 for the opportunity to provide
“an eye-catching new addition which is already attracting many visitors to study it and better understand our natural and historic landscape, its biodiversity and the important buildings within it.”
Ysgol Pennal schoolchildren joined the launch and have played their part in Pennal 2050 which has focused particularly on STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths).They are helping with tree-planting, climate monitoring through a new weather station at the school and Citizen Science river and insect monitoring events. In addition they – along with Corris school - this month visited local dairy Penmaen Isa - courtesy of farmers Hugh and Eluned Besent - to better understand where their food comes from. The Group’s farmers too have increased their knowledge of nature with workshops on regenerative farming techniques particularly in relation to soil health and biodiversity.
Rhys Parry is chair of Partneriaeth Pennal and looks forward to the next stages of the project:
“We still have a great deal we need to do to adapt to climate change and the challenges we are likely to face in this area in the future, including those of maintaining our culture, heritage and language. We also want to ensure that our children have the best skills and knowledge to invest in jobs and businesses which will benefit longer-term this part of rural Wales.”