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Communities benefit from forest industry co-operation

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​LORRIES laden with timber are a familiar, if not always welcome, sight on the roads of Wales.

The effect of ​​timber transport on rural communities has often been a cause for concern but a partnership between Natural Resources Wales, private forest sectors and the local authorities of Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Powys is addressing the problem through the Tywi Timber Transport Forum.

The forum was established in 2012 by NRW’s predecessor Forestry Commission Wales with the aim of taking as much timber traffic as possible off the unclassified road network by using in-forest haulage roads.

NRW’s Local Area Manager Brian Hanwell said:​ “Opening forest roads to timber traffic has benefitted small rural communities.

“For example, 7,000 vehicles which would have potentially driven through the village of Rhandirmwyn, in the north east of Carmarthenshire, over the last five years have instead used the eight mile long Esgair Dafydd to Cwm Henog forest road.”

The route is now the busiest forest road in Wales, taking traffic from the A483 trunk road into the 10,000 hectare upper Tywi forest holdings with the number of vehicles doubling since 2013.

The cost of maintaining shared haulage routes deliver benefits to communities, support rural industry, and reduce wear and tear on the public highway; and as forest gravel roads are cheaper to maintain than tarmac surfaced roads they save public money.

The forum’s investment in improvements and maintenance of the road, originally designed to carry around eight lorries per day, is an excellent example of collaborative working which​ ​promotes economic growth while recognising the needs of the local community.

Brian added:​ “We encourage all hauliers to register with us to use the Esgair Dafydd to Cwm Henog forest road. Authorisation clarifies insurance requirements, and we make no charge for this.

“In addition, we are able to pass on news regarding road closures to timber hauliers thanks to our close links with the highways authorities. And we also seek to reinforce good practice promoted in the Code of Conduct for Road Haulage of Round Timber.​”

Recently the forum has expanded its remit far beyond the Upper Tywi valley.

Significant volumes of timber traffic from the Tilhill Forestry and Scottish Woodlands holdings in the Brecon Beacons were due to travel through the small community of Coelbren in the Swansea Valley.

Before operations began, a consultation was held with local representatives, highway engineers and forestry area managers who drew up a joint Coelbren Timber Traffic Management Plan.

The plan restricted haulage to specific times of day to avoid the school run, and with speed limited to 20mph until traffic reached the A4221 Trunk Road.

Alastair Squire, Senior Forest and Harvesting Manager for Scottish Woodlands, and Iwan Parry, ‎Senior Forest Manager at Tilhill Forestry Limited said:​ ​“We have worked together to lessen the impact of timber traffic to Coelbren’s community. Soon all our hauliers were on board and compliant with the plan, and this seemed to address all the issues stemming from local residents.”

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Ceredigion Museum to reopen with a new exhibition

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CEREDIGION Museum in Aberystwyth is to reopen its doors to the public on August 12 after being closed due to the pandemic.

It will reopen with Human Threads; a stunning exhibition of historic quilts, with the addition of two new quilts – one digital and one physical – made by Ceredigion residents to record their experiences of the pandemic. 

Staff say they are excited to be reopening with a wonderful exhibition, having missed visitors and access to the museum for more than a year.

The museum will initially be open from Thursday to Saturday each week, from 11am until 4pm. 

Research by the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions shows that 75% of respondents want visitor attractions to retain Covid-19 safety measures, so the museum has put in place a booking system to limit the numbers of visitors at any one time. There will also be lots of opportunities to sanitise hands and visitors will be asked to social distance and wear masks for the foreseeable future.

Initially, visitors will only have access to the shop and the first floor of the museum. As key café staff were redeployed into new jobs to support schools and care homes and they are still needed in these vital roles, the café won’t be reopening for the time being.

The museum shop, however, will be open and full of lovely new products, many designed especially for the quilt exhibition.

The website will have full details of the exhibition. People will be able to book their visit from August 5 at www.ceredigionmuseum.wales

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Llandeilo going for Fair Trade Status

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A NEW steering group has formed in Llandeilo to achieve Fair Trade status for the town.

“Many of our local shops and venues already stock or serve Fair Trade products and I believe Llandeilo deserves to be officially recognised for this,” says co-founder town councillor Christoph Fischer.

“It’s fantastic to see so many businesses and stakeholders committed to Fair Trade in Llandeilo,” says Candace Browne of Y Pantri Glas, Llandeilo’s Zero Waste and Natural Foods store. “However, for me Fair Trade extends beyond insuring workers growing imported exotic produce like bananas and chocolate are treated fairly but also to trading fairly with our local producers and sourcing good food locally. As Chair of Slow Food Cymru, Slow Food Town status with a shared vision of “Good Fair Food for All” would also be great for businesses to work towards for our community.”

The group, which has representatives of several businesses and interested individuals, are currently mapping all products that local shops, schools, groups and organisations offer and are lobbying the town council and other bodies to get behind the movement by declaring their own commitment to Fair Trade.

“As town councillor and as individual I feel this initiative fits perfectly well with the trend in town for fair trade,” says Fischer. “As Member Pioneer for the Llandeilo Coop part of my role is to initiate projects like this and bring all parts of the community together. We already had positive replies from Café 139, The Lighthouse, Heavenly, Ikigai, CK’s, Crown Stores, Umami and Llandeilo Primary.”

If you and your organisation want to commit to Fair Trade or are stocking Fair Trade products, please contact ChristophFFischer@googlemail.com

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RNLI lifeguards and lifeboat crew to be awarded for brave Ceredigion rescue

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THREE RNLI lifeguards from Ceredigion have been recognised with a bravery award for saving the lives of a man and his 10-year-old son. 

With assistance from Cardigan and New Quay RNLI lifeboats, the lifeguards rescued the two kayakers who were caught in a strong offshore wind and being swept out to sea. 

For their brave actions during the rescue, the three lifeguards are to receive the prestigious Alison Saunders award, which is awarded each year to recognise the skill and bravery of lifeguards.

The pair of kayakers were rescued at Tresaith last September, having capsized 800m offshore in strong winds and bad sea conditions. Seasonal RNLI Supervisor Sam Bailey and RNLI Lifeguard Macsen Mather demonstrated remarkable courage and selflessness in entering the water, in the full knowledge that they would not be able to return to the shore unassisted, due to the wind and sea state. They were well aware they would be spending a prolonged period of time in the water in cold conditions.

Senior Lifeguard Lowri Davies remained ashore to co-ordinate the rescue with HM Coastguard, who requested that both New Quay all-weather lifeboat and Cardigan inshore RNLI lifeboat launch to support the lifeguards. Despite it being her first season as a senior lifeguard, Lowri executed her role with confidence and assurance, managing communications between lifeguards, lifeboats, and HM Coastguard, and offering reassurance to her colleagues in the water throughout the rescue. 

Having reached the kayakers, Sam and Macsen used their rescue boards to secure the casualties out of the water in order to keep them safe until the lifeboats arrived to recover the whole group.

By the time New Quay and Cardigan lifeboats arrived at Tresaith, the group had drifted over 1.5 miles out to sea. Cardigan RNLI volunteer crew transported the group to shore where the casualties received further medical attention from HM Coastguard for the effects of the cold. Both lifeboat crews will receive a letter from the RNLI’s Chairman for their part in the rescue. 

Roger Smith, RNLI Area Lifesaving Manager says: “This rescue was a superb team effort, with RNLI lifeboat crews launching in direct support of their lifeguard colleagues. We are massively proud of our lifeguards, who showed great bravery and resolve during this rescue. They entered the water to save lives, in the full knowledge that they would be unable to return to shore unaided, trusting our lifeboats to back them up. The awards recognise their collective courage and professionalism. Working together, our team saved two people from drowning that day.”

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