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BLOG: Read all about the Llais y Goedwig Year (2022/23)

For anyone that was unable to attend our AGM in October, but wanted to see what we have been up to, here is the report that was delivered by our Programme Manager Maria Wilding.

Llais y Goedwig Yearly Report

Autumn 2022

Autumn 2022 onwards saw us pretty much returning to pre-Covid levels of activity – our summer events of the Royal Welsh Show and the Eisteddfod took place for the first time in 3 years in 2022 and gave us a chance to reconnect with members and the general public in Wales, showcase the great work of Community Woodlands across Wales and continue through 2022 and 2023 with a renewed appetite for all things Community Woods!

This year we have continued to support member groups via the website, online, the newsletters and in person through our Development Officers across Wales delivering targeted assistance relevant to each group.

The Annual Gathering

The 2023 Gathering was held on Anglesey in May with 64 attendees from member groups and partner organisations coming together to explore local Community Woodland sites, discuss topics (as diverse as: the National Forest, Forest Resource Plan consultations, orchard management and managing a site for red squirrels) as well as taking the opportunity to learn practical techniques and share ideas to take back to their own woodland groups.  We enjoyed some spectacular weather, great food, and our thanks go to the groups on Ynys Mon who helped make the Gathering a success. 

Project update

The RDP funded Dewis Gwyllt project ended in October 2022 after three years of researching the feasibility and development of non-timber forest products with woodland groups.  The completion of this project coincided with the beginning of Goods from the Woods; informed by member feedback and Dewis Gwyllt research, this nine-month project had a remit to set up and run a marketing platform for sustainable woodland goods and services in Wales.  It is great to report that the COEDNET website is now live, showcasing the best of Wales’ woodland products. If you haven’t yet joined – Llais y Goedwig members have a free listing and there will be an online Christmas market from November so please get in touch if you would like to be part of that. 

Another successful work stream has been the  CommuniTree project, working in conjunction with Woodland Trust to enable small and community tree nurseries to start up and expand. It has continued into a third year with more courses, workshops and networking.   

Contract Work

Our contracted work with local councils continued with a renewed contract with Bridgend County Borough Council to help manage a local nature reserve Bedford Park, and I’m pleased to report that Kaz and her groups of volunteers have transformed the site.

We also helped to manage a series of activities under an ENRaW funded project across Bridgend, Rhondda Cynon Taff (RCT) and Merthyr council areas with the Cwm Taf Nature Networks project.

Our largest contract over the last year was ‘My Tree, Our Forest’ – a 12-month Welsh Government/Woodland Trust campaign to deliver the ‘give-away’ hubs and ‘plant a tree for me’ aspects of the programme linking with a wide range of community groups across Wales.

During the project we managed 56 hubs giving out trees to the public, landowners and organisations and arranged planting on 190 sites nationally.

NRW Enabling Community Woodlands

We are in the second year of a two-year contract supporting woodland groups with Community Management Agreement on the Welsh Government Woodland Estate, this has been an interesting work stream working with the NRW Permissions team, and we are now negotiating an extension to the contract.

WCVA

We are pleased to announce we have been awarded a WCVA Strategic Volunteering Grant to run a project between October 2023 and March 2025 to work with Local Authorities in Wales to develop their volunteering offer for groups on their land. More details of this project in the next couple of weeks.

Organisational Overview

The past year has been our first without core grant funding and has been a test of our adaptability in delivery models – moving to a blend of contract work and grant funds. It has been a challenging but rewarding year which has tested our flexibility – but we’ve risen to the challenge, and we feel a stronger organisation for it.

Our proven ability to deliver on larger scale contracts (as noted above) working in partnership with other third sector organisations has meant an increase in partnership opportunities within the sector.

The blended income model will continue to be how we fund support for members over the next year.  With the support of staff, board and members we have a mixture of ongoing contracts and smaller grant fund ‘pots’ so that we can continue to support the network to both grow and develop.

This new way of working has meant a revision of staff roles, as well as examining our skills and capacity, and our Llais y Goedwig team have adapted as needed to continue to deliver our aims. 

This year we have bid farewell to Cara Wilson our CommuniTree Officer who is now an ally in the NRW People & Places team, and one of our original development officers Sara Wynne Pari who is studying for an MSC at Bangor University.  We also welcomed

new staff member Martyn Davies who will be covering Southwest and South Central Wales along with existing staff.

Llais y Goedwig Membership

Once again, we’ve had a busy membership year, which reflects the focus on woodlands both for community wellbeing and climate change outcomes, and this perhaps also reflects renewed interest in these areas following the Covid Pandemic and restrictions that came with it.  We now have 124 full community woodland members from across Wales.

New members this year come from every corner of our country and include:

Goedwig Gymunedol Dyffryn Tanat, Bwyd am Byth, Rosehill Quarry, Ynysdawley Playing fields association, Natur Ystradgynlais, Gwendreath Environmental Education, Colwyn Bay Conservation and Environment Federation, Gelli Deg Dyfi, Llanbrynmair Pathfinders, Woodworks CIC, Friends of Wern Mynach, Friends of West Park, Merthyr Mawr Conservation Volunteers, Rabbitt Hill Community Woodland, Cemaes Bay, Nature for all, Friends of Henllys LNR, and Coedwig Creu – apologies if I’ve missed anyone off the list

So welcome to the network folks.   Please do engage, ask questions, contribute your experiences, and ask for help when needed – it is what we are here for.

Board of Directors

The Llais y Goedwig board are all volunteers representing the diversity of our members and supporters.  Their time, energy and effort in steering Llais y Goedwig should not go unrecognized as it has been a year of, at times, challenging decision making regarding the ongoing management of the Forestry Hub in Machynlleth, staff roles and the future

shape of our income streams, all the while taking into account the wishes and needs of our member groups.

They’ve supported with the organisation through, what have sometimes been, difficult times for them personally as well as professionally.  So, thanks to the current board members: David, Fay, Chris, Suzy, Joey and Ian.  As of this AGM Joey is resigning as a Board member and Suzy is stepping down for a year.  We hope to welcome more Directors before the end of the AGM as they are a vital part of how we operate. 

If you feel you would like to play a part in steering LlyG through the next few years as a member of the board of directors or as a member of the Policy Advisory Group please do get in touch to talk over ways you can contribute. 

The Forestry Hub

Some of you might know that we’ve been managing a shared office space in Machynlleth since 2016 – Originally at Unit 6 in Dyfi Eco Parc and now in a larger space at Unit 1.  The ‘Forestry Hub’ was initially funded by Welsh Government but with careful management by Llais y Goedwig has become self-sustaining with almost 30 desks occupied by other forestry and related organisations and small businesses. It brings in a small but reliable income for LlyG  as well as useful storage space. An added bonus is that it also enables us to connect with forestry and environmental organisations who we share the office with.   We are in the final stages of negotiating a further lease with Dulas the organisation who manage the building. 

And finally … to round off

 A big thank you to everyone! – especially to our staff for their hard work, but to everyone who has attended events and contributed to the network over the past year and a bit. 

All our hard work over the past few years has meant that Llais y Goedwig’s profile at strategic levels in NRW, Welsh Government and with other environmental organisations has never been higher – we are increasingly being seen, not only as an organisation to be consulted, but also one who can help deliver on many levels and on multiple agendas.

Llais y Goedwig still exists for and is directed by you the members – it’s your amazing work that is the inspiration for what we do and we really need you to keep talking to us and telling us what works and what doesn’t, and what you need to thrive as community woodland groups in Wales.

[ENDS]

      

  

   





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