The weir across the River Afan in Cwmavon

The weir across the River Afan in Cwmavon

Swansea University and the Afan Valley Angling and Conservation Club (AVACC) have established a long-term partnership aimed at advancing research and conservation efforts in river biodiversity within the Afan catchment and similar river systems in south Wales.

AVACC has committed to providing an annual donation of £1,000 to Swansea University for the next twenty years, which will support one or two undergraduate or postgraduate students each year to undertake vital research projects.

These projects will focus on understanding and conserving the biodiversity of the Afan catchment, tackling critical environmental issues such as pollution, habitat fragmentation, climate change, and the impact of land use changes. The scope of research will encompass all freshwater species within the River Afan, including fish, invertebrates, plants, and mammals.

Notably, this is the first award of its kind by an angling club from within the UK, setting a precedent for future collaborations between conservation groups and academic institutions.

The first two recipients of the award, Dorothy Hazel and Rhys Sweeny, will undertake their MSc research projects mapping and assessing the impacts of road culverts in the Afan catchment, supervised by Professor Carlos Garcia de Leaniz, Director of the Centre for Sustainable Aquatic Research (CSAR) at Swansea’s Department of Biosciences.

“This partnership represents a fantastic opportunity for our biosciences students to carry their dissertations on research projects that matter to local people, and work towards the conservation and restoration of the River Afan and similar rivers in south Wales”, said Professor Garcia de Leaniz.

Professor Helen Griffiths, Swansea University’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation, expressed her gratitude for the partnership: "We are deeply thankful to the Afan Valley Angling and Conservation Club for their foresight and generosity. This long-term funding will aid significant research in conserving our natural resources and provide invaluable opportunities for our Biosciences students to engage in hands-on environmental work.

“This partnership marks a significant step towards enhancing the understanding and preservation of river ecosystems in south Wales, and Swansea University looks forward to the positive outcomes this funding will generate for both the environment and the academic community."

John Phillips, President for Life of AVACC, stated: "Our club has always been dedicated to preserving the natural beauty and ecological health of the Afan Valley. By partnering with Swansea University, we are investing in the future of our rivers and ensuring that the next generation of environmental scientists can continue this vital work.

"We are thrilled to present the AVACC Presidents Environmental Award, which supports students within Swansea University's biosciences department. This award honours the dedication of our Presidents, Vice Presidents, and committee members, both past and present, since the club's inception in 1951."

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