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Swansea University COAH students taking part in woodland project

Swansea University has helped to restore ancient coppice at Landore Social Club and lay hedges at the Liberty Stadium in a bid to revitalise the Hafod-Morfa Copperworks site with Swansea Council.

Dating back to the Stone Age, coppicing is the woodland management technique of repeatedly chopping trees at the base and allowing them to regrow, in order to provide a sustainable supply of wood.

Alongside restoring the coppice, University volunteers with local volunteers took part in hedge laying. By managing the hedge through laying, the trees are encouraged to regenerate; this extends their life, and that of the hedge as a whole.

This project is part of the £3.75m National Lottery Heritage Fund. The partnership is between Swansea University, the University’s College of Arts and Humanities (COAH) and Swansea Council.

It aims to bring traditional rural skills back in the city, increase woodland biodiversity and provide a variety of habitats for wildlife.

The project ran 16 workshops on coppice restoration, hedge laying and wood splitting, run by Swansea University’s Dr Alexander Langlands and Community Partnership Manager, Gareth Thomas. 187 volunteers took part and contributed 263 volunteer hours in total. 60 of those volunteers were students from the College of Arts and Humanities.

Other participants included four local schools and ten community groups, which including people with mental health issues, refugees and out-of-work young people.

Swansea University History and Heritage students designed the programme, advertised it locally, helped to project manage the workshops and played a big role in delivering them. 

Community Partnership Manager Gareth Thomas says:

"This project shows what can be achieved when Swansea University teams up with the council and the local community. It's so important that the University co-produces projects with the community because the University is part of the community.

Student volunteers have learned great skills such as the restoration of biodiversity, bespoke woodwork, woodland conservation and research into the site.

Students acquire skills they will need in their working lives and local people get a chance to be involved in beautiful projects.   The College of Arts and Humanities is leading the UK with this innovative partnership. We are genuinely co-producing heritage with the Council and with local groups and people.”

Contractor Malcolm Edwards, who was involved with the project, commented:

“We’re establishing a working coppice and connecting sustainable woodland management to a vast industrial setting. We’re teaching heritage practices, conservation practices and trying to fuse history within that.”

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