First Dyfi Biosphere grants approved
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Two primary schools and two environmentally minded individuals are sharing out the first £3,200 of grant aid being given through the Dyfi Biosphere initiative.
Other ideas being considered include small conferences, energy saving ideas and equipment for small businesses.
The organisers say there is still just time for others to apply.
Ysgol Pennal and Ysgol Gynradd Machynlleth are leading the way by planning improvements to their school grounds.
Activities in Pennal will create bird boxes and turn the area into an outside classroom where pupils will study birds and other creatures.
Machynlleth Primary School is hoping to crank up its Eco School ranking by creating a pond and nature garden.
Co-ordinator of the Eco School Committee, Gwenfair Glyn, said she was looking forward to seeing the children watch tadpoles developing into frogs and coming to understand the importance of maintaining a variety of habitats.
In Ceredigion, Ian Mitchell is planting up a new natural hedge on his organic smallholding at Llancynfelin.
He will receive a small grant to buy a stock of indigenous plants that will become home to hundreds of different creatures.
"Hedges like these improve the quality of the landscape", he said, "and create corridors or safe havens for wildlife, connecting larger areas of biodiverse woodland."
Anne Hooper is thinking along similar lines and will get help to create a tree nursery on land near Cemaes and Comins Coch.
Her small voluntary group will grow native trees such as ash, rowan, hazel and willow and include an educative element by encouraging wider community involvement.
The money comes from the Welsh Assembly Government and is earmarked for activities in the Dyfi Biosphere area that relate to either nature conservation or climate change.
Grants are being administered by ecodyfi on behalf of the Dyfi Biosphere Partnership.
The Community Engagement Officer, Delyth Richards, explained that the Partnership didn't want to stand still while UNESCO considered the area's application to renew its Biosphere status.
"I'm excited that we can help people actually do things after all the talking." she said.
"We hope that this is only the first example of how this special status can unlock fresh opportunities to improve our special area".
The grants available are worth between £50 and £1000 and can provide up to 100% of the costs.
Delyth emphasized that they have to be spent before the end of March 2008 and that the application form is straightforward.
Applications may come from anybody local, including businesses, community groups, schools and individuals.
Delyth said that grants for eligible activities will be treated on a first come first served basis - so anybody with an idea related to nature conservation or climate change should get in touch straight away before the £15,000 available runs out.
UNESCO is the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
A Biosphere is an area in which people work to integrate the conservation of biodiversity with its sustainable use. They are internationally recognised within the framework of UNESCO's Programme on Man and the Biosphere.
The Dyfi Biosphere Partnership consists of community representatives, local authorities and other public sector organisations.
Its purpose is to inform and consult with local residents and businesses about the potential advantages of continuing and expanding the area's UNESCO Biosphere status. It has received funding from the Countryside Council for Wales.
The members are:
Ecodyfi provides administrative and development services for the Partnership.