Mark Drakeford with members of the Riverside community

Mark Drakeford shows support for Riverside community project

We must make the best we can of our green spaces, says First Minister

SOUTH Riverside Community Development Centre has received Welsh Government funding to help nature in one of the most built-up areas of Cardiff. 

First Minister Mark Drakeford today attended an event at Clare Gardens to promote the Greening Riverside project.

“It is important we make the best we can of the very small number of green spaces we have in a densely populated area like Riverside,” he told The Cardiffian. 

“There is fantastic work going on today ensuring that not only that not only the environment benefit from it, but the people involved in it as well. People have a sense of ownership for the scheme, will look after it, and are able to tell other people about the great work that goes on.

“Wales, like the rest of the planet, is in the grip of a climate emergency. The broader scheme of which this is part is called Local Places for Nature, and that is trying to persuade people that everybody can make a contribution to tackling climate change. 

“These very local schemes say to people that there are things that every one of us can and need to do in our own lives. You add all of those contributions up, and suddenly you have something significant.”

First Minister Mark Drakeford talks to Cerys Jones about the Greening Riverside project.

Greening Riverside is designed to encourage residents to get involved with nature and rewilding the area.

Activities include planting bulbs and creating nature corridors for wildlife, like hedgehogs and insects, to move about safely.

Residents can also take part in a course being run in March and again in September on greening the area and digital literacy.

Project leaders are particularly keen on engaging the 50% of the Riverside population from ethnic minority communities.

Louise Gray, who has worked on the Growing Project for two years, said: “Local people know best what corners or scraps of land offer possibilities and how best to design nature-activities that will attract their communities.

“We will be pulling together new and existing greening projects into a Local Plan for Nature in Riverside – something everyone can get involved with.”

Project leader Louise Gray and Director of the SRCDC Jen Abel promoting Greening Riverside in Clare Gardens. Photo by Cerys Jones.

Last year, Cardiff Council declared a city-wide nature emergency. This project will encourage biodiversity by planting plants to attract pollinators and creating nature corridors for wildlife.

Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning and Transport and Riverside councillor Caro Wild said: “There is such an amazing community in South Riverside. The area is quite urban with a lack of green spaces. We need to make the most of our green spaces through planting trees and planting greenery, and people really enjoy doing it. 

“The people really enjoy being outdoors, being with their friends and learning new skills. You can learn some amazing skills such as planting herbs, links with food and people really enjoy helping their community.” 

The Urban Leadership course will support participants in designing their own nature-based activities. 

Participants will enhance the green spaces in the South Riverside area to ensure that wildlife can survive in one of the most built-up wards in Wales.

The green represents the number of green spaces in Riverside. Photo by Cerys Jones.

Director of SRCDC, Jen Abell said: “The diverse community of Riverside are terrifically skilled, but there are lots of barriers in the way of them being able to go on courses.

“This is a fantastic project that ensures biodiversity in the terms that Riverside want it, driven by Riverside.” 

Local and national environmental groups will evaluate the impact made by the Riverside project.