01 June 2012>
A green oasis in the heart of the Caerphilly County Borough will become the country's first National Nature Reserve (NNR) in an urban setting.
The Countryside Council for Wales (CCW) has agreed that a site in Aberbargoed will officially receive the prestigious designation at a special community event on Thursday 14th June.
Aberbargoed Grasslands is rich in biodiversity and is home to the endangered marsh fritillary butterfly, as well as other valuable wildlife features, including fungi, rich grasslands, ponds and hedgerows.
The majority of National Nature Reserves in Wales are based in rural, coastal or upland areas, so this site is of particular importance to South Wales due to its close proximity to an urban community.
Caerphilly County Borough Council has already introduced measures to benefit the habitats and wildlife, including site management, control of invasive species and the building of a classroom on-site to encourage use by the community.
Cllr Ken James, CCBC Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Planning & Sustainable Development said, "The improvements made to the grasslands over recent years have nurtured and encouraged the wildlife at the site. We are delighted that the site will be declared a National Nature Reserve, as it will enable us to further enhance the habitat and increase opportunities for the community to enjoy this important green space."
A special celebration of the Grasslands is planned for Thursday 14th June, during Wales Biodiversity Week, with a butterfly parade involving local schools and communities. The Countryside Council for Wales have invited John Griffiths, the Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development at the Welsh Government to 'launch' the National Nature Reserve on the day.
The butterfly parade will start at 1.30pm from Aberbargoed Primary School and will involve pupils from Aberbargoed and Markham Primary Schools, Ysgol Bro Sannan and Heolddu Comprehensive school some will be dressed as insects accompanied by a samba band. The official launch will take place at 2.15pm on the sports field at Ty Fry Road Aberbargoed which is next to the site.
A road closure will be in place on Commercial Street Aberbargoed from 1.20pm to 2.00pm to accommodate the parade.
There will also be an evening celebration for the local community on the sports field from 4.30pm to 7.30pm which will feature a variety of activities, stalls and displays, promoting local wildlife and community groups who have had involvement with the National Nature Reserve.
The National Nature Reserve will raise the profile of Aberbargoed and the other nearby communities. It will also encourage visitors to come to the County Borough to visit the site increasing trade in the local community. Various improvements have been undertaken at the site thanks to grant funding from the Countryside Council for Wales, Objective 1, ERDF, Heads of the Valleys Programme and the Valleys Regional Park 'Valleys Hearts and Soul' Campaign.
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