A £1.3m project, Biophilic Wales, that promises to boost the well-being of Welsh people, plants and pollinators has been given the green light.
‘Biophilic Wales’ is being led by the National Botanic Garden of Wales and funded by Welsh Government’s Enabling Natural Resources and Well-being Grant. The main delivery partners in the project are Swansea Bay University Health Board, Natural Resources Wales and Swansea University.
The overall aim of Biophilic Wales is to increase the well-being of people, biodiversity and the environment, throughout Wales, using three interconnected work packages: Inspiring Spaces, Grasslands for Life and Plants for People.
It will result in:
• the ‘greening’ of vital, outdoor spaces, in places where people can benefit from them the most
• the protection and improvement of grassland landscapes
• the celebration of Wales’ natural heritage by protecting some of our most endangered plants.
Top of the project’s hit-list are sites surrounding hospitals, health-centres and mental health facilities, run by Swansea Bay University Health Board.
The Botanic Garden’s Head of Science and Biophilic Wales lead, Dr Natasha de Vere, said:
“We will increase access, biodiversity value and create vital wildlife habitats. We will create inspirational green spaces for people to connect with and benefit from the natural environment. The work we do will be used to develop models that can be applied throughout Wales.”
The ‘Inspiring Spaces’ element of the project will see a transformation of under-used outdoor areas into spaces that are full of wildlife, where people can enjoy and be restored by the natural world.
Under the heading of ‘Grasslands For Life’, Dr Andrew Lucas, of Natural Resources Wales, says:
“This project will revolutionise how we monitor grasslands, enabling us to manage, restore and create sites that maximise biodiversity and ecosystem resilience. We will use innovative soil DNA barcoding to determine the entire biosphere of grasslands, including plants, animals, fungi and microbes.”
The final component – ‘Plants For People’ – will be a celebration of Wales’ natural plant heritage.
Dr de Vere said:
“We will ensure that our nation’s most threatened plants and key grassland species are protected for the future by collecting seed for the National Seed Bank of Wales. We will develop approaches to ensure that Welsh-provenance seed of grassland species is available for restoration and creation projects in the future.