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Council and conservationists join forces on new biodiversity programme

Swansea Council and environmental group Swansea Trees are working together on a plan to boost the city's biodiversity in response to the building of the city's digital arena.

coastalparkland

The plan will help mitigate for removal of trees which stand on the existing LC car park where the arena and associated facilities such as a coastal parkland will soon be constructed. Swansea's total number of trees will increase.

The structure of the new sustainable environmental programme is being created by council officers with input from group members and UK charity The Woodland Trust with which the group is collaborating.

Other interested parties will also be invited to influence the development and rollout of the programme.

On behalf of Swansea Trees, members Professor Mary Gagen and Deborah Checkland recently accepted the Woodland Trust's 2018 Street Trees Community Action Award at a prestigious event in Alexandra Palace, London, hosted by broadcaster Clive Anderson.

The award was granted in recognition of how the group had protected and celebrated the trees on their city streets, educated the public about trees and increased their appreciation, as well as engaging with the council to establish a positive working relationship.

Council leader Rob Stewart said: "We are in the process making Swansea a greener city and have common goals with Swansea Trees and The Woodland Trust.

"It's good to be working with both organisations to enhance Swansea's environment as the city undergoes its transformation to a 21st century destination city.

"Our environmental work in response to the arena's construction is part of our effort to maintain and enhance our natural resources and increase biodiversity throughout the city.

"This includes creating new parkland, new green areas, planting hundreds more trees and a delivering a huge re-greening of our city centre."

Deborah Checkland, of Swansea Trees, said: "We were delighted to receive the first ever Street Trees Community Action Award - a great honour, and we're pleased to be working together with Swansea Council to improve greening and local biodiversity.

"This approach will help so much in working towards the aspiration of the group and the council to increase and improve tree canopy levels in Swansea. It would also encourage more people to get involved in making Swansea the greenest city in Wales."

Most LC car park trees are being removed for re-use as the arena construction gets underway this year. As a result of discussion on the best use of those funds, a budget originally set aside for relocating some of them will now be invested in new trees for Swansea and community engagement activity as part of the sustainable environmental programme.

Joseph Coles, Street Tree lead at the Woodland Trust, said: "The community group has secured our support as a result of these negotiations to facilitate wider community engagement.

"We're preparing proposals, with the help of tree expert Russell Horsey, for wider collaboration in 2019 thanks to positive discussions held over the past few months.

"In this specific circumstance, monies redirected from the arena development contract will significantly increase the impact of those efforts. Swansea Trees and council officers have agreed to continue discussions on the detail and how these understandings can be rolled out to Swansea streets." 

The council is pushing ahead to build the 3,500-capacity arena which is key to the city's transformation.

It is at the heart of the £120m Swansea Central Phase One development that will help regenerate the city. It will include car parking, a gateway bridge, digital plaza, a coastal park, commercial units and apartments.

It will bring new jobs and act as a catalyst for further investment in the city. The arena will be run by global entertainment operator ATG.

Swansea Central Phase One has planning permission. The decision followed consultation that showed widespread public and stakeholder support for the plans.

The digital indoor arena and digital plaza elements of Swansea Central Phase One are due to be part-funded by the £1.3bn Swansea Bay City Deal as part of the Swansea City and Waterfront Digital District project. This project also includes a digital village for tech businesses on Kingsway, and a box village and innovation precinct development at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David campus in SA1.

The Swansea Bay City Deal is an investment in 11 major projects across the Swansea Bay City Region, subject to the approval of business cases, with funding from the UK Government, the Welsh Government, the public sector and the private sector.

ImageAn architect illustration of Swansea Central Phase One's coastal parkland and arena.

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