£1.2m for well-being project along Conwy River


August 14, 2019

The National Trust has just launched ‘Tir Afon’, a project to better connect communities in the Conwy Valley with their landscape and a strong focus on well-being.

Following a successful bid for the Welsh Government ‘Enabling Natural Resources and Well-being in Wales’ (ENRAW) grant, the £1.2 million scheme will build on existing work to create a cleaner, healthier catchment for people and nature.

The three-year project which was launched following last week's Eisteddfod will create opportunities for people to connect with nature and explore the outdoor environment on their doorstep.

National Trust, Tir Afon Project Manager, Dewi Davies, said: “Focussing on people and their relationship with the land is vital. The more people can feel connected to their landscape, the better chance we have of tackling the issues that face our environment and our communities. 

"We all need to play our part. Working in partnership is a vital step. We will be building on the work of the Upper Conwy Catchment Project and welcome partners – new and old - to help us on that journey.”

As part of the National Exercise Referral Scheme, health professionals currently refer people for exercise at Leisure Centres. Tir Afon will support the Scheme by facilitating access to the outdoors, which is proven to provide additional benefits for well-being.

By working with GP Surgeries in Llanrwst, Betws y Coed and Cerrigydrudion the project will offer outdoor alternatives. For example, electric bikes will be available for people to try, making cycling more accessible for all. Supervised walks will also be offered for people to take part in.

Access within the catchment will be improved by linking up existing routes and improving links from the surgeries to the wider network of paths. And a series of guided walks will be set up to support people that lack confidence to set out on their own.

Cllr Louise Emery is Cabinet Member responsible for Leisure Services at Conwy County Borough Council, she said, “The exercise referral scheme has had such a positive impact that we’re really pleased to see the principle extended to the great outdoors.

"We’re excited to be part of this project to improve access to physical activity in rural Conwy- reconnecting people and nature.”

Tir Afon will build on previous work, by restoring more habitats at the top of the catchment to improve carbon storage and water filtration whilst also helping to create more space for water and help to alleviate flooding downstream.

Volunteers will get involved with planting trees along rivers to slow the flow of water and link up habitats.

The project will also re-wet more peat bogs at Y Migneint and Hiraethog.

Sian Williams, Head of Operations for North West Wales, Natural Resources Wales, said: “Work to restore natural habitats can bring many benefits – for wildlife, people and the local economy. 

"This joined-up, landscape-scale project will boost wildlife, help reduce flooding, improve water quality, reduce peat erosion and create new recreation opportunities.  

"It will all combine to help ensure the Upper Conwy is a great place for local people and visitors to enjoy for generations to come.”

A walk was organised by NRW, to coincide with the launch of the project at the Eisteddfod. And, on the National Trust’s stand at the Eisteddfod, visitors had the chance to get their hands dirty by exploring their relationship with their landscape through art.