Television ‘Birdman’ Iolo Williams has helped get a new partnership between Bluestone and the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales off to a flying start.
The Trust and Bluestone have worked together in the past, but the partnership marks the start of a new chapter in which the Trust will be undertaking a range of projects aimed at helping deepen Bluestone guests’ understanding of the natural environment.
Those projects include the Trust managing the 60 hectares of woodland at Bluestone as a nature reserve.
At the official launch of the partnership at Camp Smokey, Bluestone’s woodland cookhouse this week, Iolo – naturalist, TV presenter and Trust president – shared his expertise with young guests on a Junior Rangers session.
He was also delighted to learn how the careful transformation of ecologically-poor farmland into Wales’ only national park resort is enabling wildlife to thrive.
Said Iolo: “It’s not often you see a development like this which so easily marries a boost to the economy with a boost for local wildlife. In my experience, that’s pretty unique.”
He added: “It’s the first time I’ve been here and what struck me immediately is how prepared to take new ideas on board the team here are.
“I also think it’s fabulous that while the new partnership paves the way for even closer working, the Trust has been involved here right from the word go. That’s the way it should be, so this is a model example in many ways.”
The chief executive of the Trust, Sarah Kessell, added: “A passion for wildlife and a desire to share that passion with others is really what links Bluestone and the Wildlife Trust, and where we share an ethos. We’re delighted to be in partnership with the Bluestone team, and we’re looking forward to working together on some exciting projects.”
As well as the managing the Bluestone woodland, the Trust will also be running work parties, in which guests and volunteers from the local community will help with tasks such as coppicing and scrub clearance.
The Trust will also be helping to run activities for children and families, including moth trapping, bat walks and nut hunts; they’ll be bringing in guest speakers, and among the ideas for other joint projects are the erection of bird hides, trips to Skomer Island, and the creation of wildflower meadows, orchards, wetlands and other habitats.
Bluestone chief executive William McNamara said: “All these plans and ideas are in perfect harmony with the original Bluestone ethos. Our partnership with the Trust will help us make Bluestone into everything we always said it would be and wanted it to be, and that’s why we are genuinely delighted to be working alongside them. It’s a partnership we believe will be to all our benefit – naturally.”
A registered charity, The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales is one of 47 wildlife trusts across the UK, and covers the fourth largest in area. Three of the West Wales islands are among their 90 or so nature reserves, along with Skokholm and Skomer off the Pembrokeshire coast.
The Trust’s priorities are to manage these reserves for wildlife, and to serve local communities by providing them with wildlife opportunities on their doorstep.