The Gwyl Taf project was setup in 2013 by the South East Wales Rivers Trust with the support of Greggs the Bakers.
The Gwyl Taf project has been designed to help local communities see the River Taff in a new light after decades of natural recovery; within 30 years the river has changed from being one of the top 10 most polluted rivers in Europe to now supporting a wealth of wildlife including otter, kingfisher, Heron, Atlantic salmon and trout.
The Taff has been badly polluted since the industrial 18th century, where the river suffered toxic discharges from iron works and huge contamination from coal dust. This growth in industry also led to a population increase which further polluted the river with sewage outfalls and effluents from more intensive farming. Whilst many of these issues have disappeared, or are under much stricter control, the historic perception of the river being dirty and dead have given rise to a number of more modern threats including toxic run-off from roads, fly-tipping and the river-adjacent areas being used for dangerous and often illegal activities.
Hence the project aims to erase these outdated opinions by encouraging the local communities to enjoy the river in more positive and healthy ways and reclaim the future of the river through understanding the benefits of having this amazing environment on their doorstep!
The project has been designed to tackle these issues in a number of ways;
- By spreading awareness through an education and interpretation programme designed to challenge the existing preconceptions and demonstrate the outstanding ecological recovery of the Taff, both in schools and within the wider community - for more info check out our Schools and Events pages.
- By facilitating the local communities to engage in recreational activities both in and beside the river (including fishing, kayaking, walking and nature watching) by organising free trial sessions in easily accessible local sites - for more info check out our volunteering and Learn 2 pages.
- By encouraging the local communities to get involved in the practical reclamation and management of their local green spaces. Our flagship green space is Pontygwaith Nature Reserve where we are reclaiming the neglected reserve from the biodiversity desert of excessive bracken growth to being a species rich accessible green space and community orchard for use by the local communities - for more info please check out our Pontygwaith page.
Jen Pilkington John
Gwyl Taf Project Officer Key Volunteer