Category Archives: Wales

news and ideas specific to Wales, especially the mid wales and borders where we live

Ex High School student wins Grow Wild grant for Llanfyllin

grow wild

Grow wild, is a project by Kew Gardens to support wild plants and landscapes across the UK

Protecting Wales’ wildlife and biodiversity is an essential part of fighting climate change. Plants trap carbon from the atmosphere and build it into fertile soils where it becomes an asset rather than a danger.

Cae Bodfach is a community space for exercise, recreation, fun and specialising but it is also planned as an essential part of protecting and enhancing biodiversity in the area. It contains more than 50 heritage fruit trees as well as many more support plants, willow coppice and now ex Llanfyllin High School student Grace has secured funding from Grow Wild to add more dye plants, herbs and meadow species to the field.

Many of our wild plants can be sued as dyes as well as being good for nature and wildlife.

Grace at Cae Bodfach pruning fruit trees back in February

What was once a ‘green desert’ monoculture of rye grass is slowly turning into diverse rich space that can help feed the community and the surrounding wildlife. This is great news and a big credit to those who drafted and submitted this application, congratulations!

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‘It is not an investment if it is destroying the planet’

Yet here in Wales we are still proposing new roads that destroy increasingly rare habitat.

The M4 relief road key points:

The Welsh Government wants to build a £1.1bn six-lane motorway to the south of Newport.

The 14.23m (23km) highway will be between the current M4 junction 23A at Magor to junction 29 near Castleton.

The Welsh Government plans to begin construction in 2018 and open the new road in 2021.

The Welsh Government said the current M4 around Newport, opened in 1967, “does not meet modern motorway design standards”.

Environmental campaigners and local residents claim the scheme will devastate the ancient marshlands of the Gwent Levels and four sites of special scientific interest.

There have been 335 formal objections, compared to 192 letters of support.

A public local inquiry is expected to last five months.

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GCSE Photography Students at the Community Orchard

We have just received some more photographs and a little write up from Louise Bass, Photography Teacher at Llanfyllin High School:

My year ten Photography class have been working with the Llanfyllin Transition Project to produce banners and a booklet cover. Very kindly Jack Hunter came in to introduce the project to help fuel ideas to do with Permaculture. Students spent time discussing environmental issues and ways of encouraging cultural changes to work with nature to help support green practice and ways of working.

Students also benefitted from a visit from a past textile student who is now studying at university. Marianne Terrill spoke about her project using digital images of green foliage inspired by environmental issues. Her sketchbook showed the digital manipulation of images to produce beautiful printed fabric designs. Bringing the outside inside on soft furnishings.

On a damp Thursday morning Mr Hunter and Steve Jones kindly agreed to show the students around the Wetlands and Community Orchard. Here students had the opportunity to photograph the environment in detail. Steve spoke very inspirationally about using nature to heal the damage we have done. The space is a beautiful location providing fun for all the community and a real environmental mini ecosystem. My favourite comment was that there is no such thing as waste in nature only another resource!

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In lessons students plan to use their new found knowledge to combine with images captured to produce real banners, posters and a booklet cover. I look forward to seeing what they produce.

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GCSE Photography Students at the Community Orchard

We had a lovely morning taking Llanfyllin High School photography students down to the community orchard and the wetlands as part of the Llanfyllin Transition Project. It was really good to see them getting up close to nature. We are really looking forward to seeing the fruits of their efforts!

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Llanfyllin Transition Event. WWF UK’s Living Planet Lecture 2016


Sir David Attenborough & Professor Johan Rockstrom speak at WWF UK’s Living Planet Lecture 2016.

If you have not seen it yet, this is a brilliant lecture. Information dense but brilliantly presented, Prof Rockstrom presents a torrent of evidence, yet sticks to key memorable points helping you navigate through the detail. We still have time to act meaningfully but that window is rapidly closing he warns. The final chapter of his presentation is challengingly positive, as he talks about the exponential nature of change and the global responses to this huge problem. A journey of 35 footsteps takes me to the exit of this theatre he tells us, but a journey of 35 exponential footsteps takes me to Mars!

paris targets

This is the path laid out by the Paris Agreement, that gives us a 66% chance of avoiding run away climate change

We staged this talk in a build up to Earth Day next month and as part of the Llanfyllin Transition Project launch. We have the specific aim of facilitating a positive dialogue about how we as a community can channel these tectonic shifts coming our way towards positive outcomes and new opportunities for our community. The climate/ energy story is reshaping our economy as well as the geography of the planet and by steering the economy in the right direction we can also begin to formulate much more meaningful responses to this challenge.

We are experiencing the ecological problem of climate change as an economic problem, caused by a failure to see the whole picture. GDP growth at all costs is a limited and unimaginative way to see the world.

There can no longer be such a thing as an economic externality, argues Prof Rockstrom.

Hiding the true economic cost of production by externalising those costs onto either society or the environment is no longer an option as we have saturated both to the point of implosion. Solving this will involve learning how to think differently, to think bigger and much more long-term. It is going to an incredible journey and we invite you to join us…

40+ people attended the one hour screening and 30 minute discussion at the Llanfyllin High School

We also launched the first edition of the Llanfyllin transition Handbook at the event, we had printed 10 early editions for sale, all of which sold on the night.

Launch of the Llanfyllin Transition handbook

Here is some feedback from one of attendee’s

Morning Steve, just wanted to say thank you for last night, I really enjoyed the talk and would be lovely to get a copy of the book if you decide to get more printed. Wondered if it would be a good idea to arrange a more relaxed way of talking following the next event. I could see that people wanted to talk and perhaps an informal talk around tables with a cuppa would work well? So many lovely people with ideas to share. Anyway its just a wee thought. Sending lots of happy wishes your way!

We are already planning the follow-up event and will be listening to this and other feedback to create a space where we can have more discussion and debate and can pick up on some of the many issues raised by the film and the climate Change agenda.

Read this:

This Vox article sets our decade by decade the challenges before us. This is what we should be aiming to give our selves a chance of avoiding run away climate change.

I invite people to use this as a basis for continuing discussions.
Vox: The simple yet daunting roadmap for staying under 2 degrees

Scientists made a detailed “roadmap” for meeting the Paris climate goals. It’s eye-opening.

 

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Llanfyllin Transition Project Handbook – Preview Copies

We have a limited number of preview copies of our Llanfyllin Transition Project Handbook available for just £3 each. Come along to our climate change event at Llanfyllin High School, this Thursday at 7pm to get one! The aim of the handbook is to inspire positive community change, no matter how small or how large, to help tackle the challenge of Climate Change using ideas from permaculture, the transition movement and deep ecology.

“It is exciting to discover a Welsh community that has already done so much to pioneer these practical solutions using permaculture design and the power of the Transition Movement: influencing school curriculum, creating local community orchards and gardens, establishing a housing co-op and associated enterprises, storytelling, offering cutting edge training to spread this knowledge far and wide, and grounding all of this with an understanding of our deep interconnection with all species as humans alive at this critical time in our history. Reaching out, Llanfyllin Transition Project have gathered stories about their approach and shared it in this book. Prepare to be inspired.”

– Maddy Harland, editor of Permaculture Magazine and a co-founder of Permanent Publications.

“The Llanfyllin Transition Project (which embodies both pragmatic daily wisdom, and myth inspired storytelling), is a vitally important means to invite our participation toward eliminating the variety of eco-crises threatening all life on planet Earth. I encourage all of us to support this project and read this book.”

 – Mark A. Schroll, PhD,author of Transpersonal Ecosophy, Vol. 1: Theory, Methods, and Clinical Assessments.

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Presentation for GCSE Photography Students

Jack’s presentation, given to GCSE Photography students as an introduction to the Llanfyllin Transition Project last week, has now been uploaded to the resources page:

Click Here to Access the Full Presentation

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Plant y coed

Investing in their future: community orchard work, March 2017

Forgive my poor Welsh but the image of children planting fruit trees in the Welsh spring (Children = plant, wood = coed) is too perfect a pun opportunity to miss out on!

There is wonderful soil down on the flood plain at Cae Bodfoch by the river Cain. Millennia of alluvial deposits have built a wonderful fertile soil there, it’s a little heavy with clay but with a high carbon content so it is open and aerated, perfect for growing. The presence of moles, who feast on worms whilst tunneling through the rich soil open up drainage and air-ways confirm its excellent fertility and potential.

Willow coppice, volunteer Lesley harvesting by the Afon Cain, Llanfyllin

Fertile soils, moisture and full sun make an excellent space for growing. Over the last 3 or 4 years via local permaculture initiatives we have been able to  introduce several willow coppice beds as well as establishing a heritage orchard there.

Willow plays many more important roles than just providing biomass for burning or materials for basketry.

The river is a spawning ground for trout who are very sensitive to silts and mud on the gravel beds where they choose to lay their eggs. Planting trees along riversides reduces the soils washing from surrounding farmland into rivers by filtering and cleaning any surface flow. Riverside plantings also stabilise soils on the banks with their roots, whilst the trees also provide habitat and food for insects and birds.

Project volunteers planted 80m of willow along the edge of the field for coppice two years ago using salix viminalis, a fast growing shrub willow long used for basketry, biomass and water filtration. We also designed the planting to provide a wildlife corridor from the river across the field in a way that also offers wind shelter to the wetland/ picnic area adjacent to it.

coppice This is a small part of the 10 acre area that has been given over to community use by the landowners at Bodfach hall, a little further up stream. There are a range of plans for how to use the rest of the field but protecting and enhancing wildlife and biodiversity was always a key consideration in this sensitive area.

The process began a few years ago when the land first became available, people across the community were invited to submit ideas as to how it could be used for long-term community benefit. A variety of ideas were submitted, some fanciful but not practical, some practical but beyond budget and in many ways suggestions fell between the two but failed to have an overall coherence.

I took the proposition and gave it to a group of permaculture design graduate students in 2013 and again in 2014 and from that we evolved a plan that took into account the key potentials from a wildlife and biodiversity perspectives whilst aiming to create relationships and connections with the surrounding community at the same time. This is the nub of permaculture design, designing for personal goals and needs in a way that compliments, benefits and includes community objectives whilst working to maximise the benefit to and understanding of our place in the wider natural world.

Development vs enviroment
We could be forgiven for thinking that achieving development objectives entails sacrifice of the environment, because industry and developers always present habitat disruption as a necessary cost of progress. Permaculture design however refutes that view asserting that until we can reconcile the two objectives we will never achieve any degree of sustainable development. Furthermore Permaculture asserts that every development is a opportunity to enhance the environment and wider ecology, ceasing this continual erosian of natural capital.

Whenever we are creating something we should be finding ways and approaches which benefit community and ecology, whilst of course achieving the original objective.

 

A plan for Cae Bodfach

With all of this in mind a plan evolved; the two groups of Sector39 students sifted through the minutes, plans and notes from the community and town council meeting and chatted with various stakeholders of the project before producing a design for the field. The student’s design had many elements in the final plan, so when it came to submitting it to the council we removed more speculative elements and concentrated on the backbone of the design, locating the key elements that fitted the brief given us by Llanfyllin town council, representing the community.

cae bodfach plan

Cae Bodfach planting plan as submitted to the Town Council, based on survey work by S39 PDC students

The orchard/ food forest is placed centrally to the field on the highest and richest ground on the flood plain. It avoids the power lines that cross the field and is arranged as a single island that the tractor which crops the hay each summer can easily navigate around.

We have added to the orchard each year since we began, firstly with support of the Cwm Harry Get-Growing project and latterly with help from the Welsh Cider and Perry society as well as this project. Year on year it is developing towards something we hope will be of real lasting value to the community and the wildlife of the area. We have planted some 50 heritage fruit trees now, with hundreds of support plants. Herbs, shrubs, bee-friendly flowers, berries and more have all been added to support the overall effect.

The vision fo the Cae Bodfach food forest is a community able to harvest useful quantities of fruit for its own use with surpluses available for juicing, jamming and fermenting – all of which could potentially be resold to generate income for community projects in the future.

Of course these plantings only take up a small part of the space available and are either at the extreme edges or in the middle of the field furthest away from the picnic areas and entrances. So those plans as yet unrealised and calling for more physical investment, skate parks and natural amphitheatres still have plenty of available space to evolve into but hopefully at least we have created something that makes the area more interesting and inviting to both the community and the ecology of the area.

Local students planting trees as part of the first phase of development in 2014/ 5

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Year 10 Photography Class

Jack has been at Ysgol Uwchradd Llanfyllin High School this morning discussing climate change, permaculture and the Llanfyllin Transition Project with Year 10 Photography students. They are going to be creating posters, placards, banners and a book cover for our World Earth Day event in April, communicating the message of our collective responsibility to care for our local and global environment.

photography1a

photography2

photography1

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How far can you see?

Creating a 25 year Vision for Llanfyllin,
can we be carbon neutral by 2042 ?

Rising to the climate challenge can create new opportunities and new possibilities, all it takes is imagination – we can be leaders not followers!

Many people try not to think about the climate challenge as it is either too scary or contentious for them. The future will indeed be dark if we don’t work together to build a vision of what we do want, inaction is no longer an option. The longer we wait to rise this challenge then the harder it will be to make the changes required of us.

The longer we wait, the more rapid the change we have to make

The longer we wait, the more rapid the change we have to make

Science is warning us not to wait any longer to make the changes and adaptations to the unfolding crisis, inaction only means an even more rapid and severe transition is required.

None of us has a crystal ball but we do know that the future will be very different from now. If we use current science to make predictions, what does that tell us?

The Science underpinning the Paris Climate Accord tells us that we need to achieve net zero carbon emissions as soon as possible, we should be well on our way to that target by 2042. We can be sure that the way we plan and deliver essential services like transport, food, energy and buildings will be entirely different by then. The key sources of green house gas emissions are food, energy and transport and what many specialists in the area are predicting is that:

‘the future is going to be local.’

narch for science

Global actions are planned in support of the scientific community, as politicians continue to duck their responsibilities by claiming there is still doubt about the data.

More than simply finding creative solutions to food and energy issues we are told that we must develop strategies to actually capture carbon from the atmosphere and return it to the soils where it is no longer a problem. They call this carbon sequestration and the target we have to hit by the end of this century is to drive atmospheric CO2 down to 350ppm.

The climate has alwyas changed but nothing like this in the last 2 million years

Before we started burning coal and chopping down forests the level was 285ppm and today, it stands at close to 410ppm. Don’t let these numbers baffle you, it is a huge challenge and one we simply have to achieve if we are to have a chance of a secure future.

carbon budget

The path to climate stability

This graph shows data from the 2017 COP22 meetings held in Marrakech Morocco earlier this year and show the extent of the changes we all will need to make to secure our futures. This is the available science and contrary to impressions you might get from the media, is widely agreed and accepted, there is a clear consensus amongst scientists regarding these assumptions and our government is signed up to the global agreements requiring action.

Paris is not enough!

195 countries signed the Paris agreement in December 2015 accepting the science and the urgent need for climate action, however governments, including our own have only committed to about half of what we are actually required to do. They have admitted that on their own it is too big a challenge for them to achieve and therefore the need for leadership to come from us, the people has never been stronger.

Perhaps older people are more complacent facing up to problems they perceive won’t affect them directly but whatever the reasons for this I strongly believe the younger generations have an amazing opportunity to rise to this challenge.

Make the climate challenge the defining issue for this generation!

If we don’t plan and work for the future we want then in all likelihood we will have something last-minute and ill thought through imposed on us from above. The world is waking up to the fact that Governments and industry are too embedded in the current system to be able to make the changes required. It is up to us to build a vision of what we want our future to look like.

Lets create a different vision of the future!

We want Llanfyllin, the school and community to be leaders, rather than waiting to be told we should be planning for an exciting low-carbon future. Jobs, housing, food, finance and so many other opportunities are going to be defined by this increasingly urgent agenda. If we can see these changes as a big opportunity then I believe people’s attitudes can be quickly changed.

food forest

Seattle/ Llanfyllin, we have already started a food forest for the Cain valley

  • Did you know there are ways to build houses that lock up carbon from the atmosphere for many decades? Using timber, straw, wool, earth and lime plasters we can build modern homes for less cost that also sequestrate carbon.
  • Did you know there are ways to grow food and manage land in ways that also suck down tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere and lock it up in the soils?
  • Soil carbon, like compost and humus doesn’t just make land more fertile, it helps it absorb and hold onto moisture, reducing flooding and the need for irrigation.
  • There are even Search engines that plant trees on the revenue generated
  • Did you know there are ways to produce heat and electricity that are many times more efficient than the current technologies we use?

We need new ideas, new stories, new inspiration to help people’s understand grow and with the clock ticking we need find ways to be creative and inclusive in how we do this.

Saving the planet also means creating lots of new opportunities

The price of renewable electricity is droppng fast. This will create many new opportunities

for ourselves, new jobs, more interesting work, new and innovative ways of doing things that both embrace new technologies and methods but also that are informed by tried and tested ways of being that draw on centuries of history.

Send us your vision for 2040!

  • How old will you be then?
  • Use your imagination to create a story or description of what Llanfyllin school or community will be like at this time.
  • Can you think of ways to inspire, inform and change people’s attitudes to be more respectful of climate change issues and aware of the potentials to make positive change.
  • Feel free to talk about any aspect of life in our low carbon future, work, school, food, economy, entertainment, technology, its up to you.

Write an essay, draw us pictures, record a talk or video. We and keen to hear your ideas in what ever form you would like to share them in.

One rule, keep it positive!

We want to inspire people that we can rise to this challenge and at the same time make big contributions to the Llanfyllin school, community and Wales as a whole.

We believe Llanfyllin can be leaders and an inspiration to the rest of the world, do you?

Llanfyllin Transition Team March 2017

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You can't hear it, but trees actually are speaking to one another.

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ATTN:

Ecovillages are creating a new way to live.

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Things need to turn around! ✊

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This device can pull up to 11 gallons of water from thin air

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You can repurpose glass jars into adorable seed starters!
FULL INSTRUCTIONS: http://bzfd.it/2mAwC7K

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Unity in (bio)diversity

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This blooming sunflower collects energy from the sun.

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