Mid and West Wales outdoor learning and wellbeing charity Tir Coed has launched an ambitious six-year project to engage 17,000 disadvantaged people in a host of land-based skills, ranging from basic food growing to traditional heritage crafts, after receiving financial backing for the scheme from the UK government.
The charity’s AnTir project has been granted £170,261 from the Community Renewal Fund for the initial feasibility stage of the scheme, which is being carried out in Ceredigion before the full project is rolled out into Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Powys.
The project will seek to address social, economic and wellbeing inequalities in rural areas while also mitigating the impact of global climate change at a local level.
The name AnTir is derived from the Welsh words “Antur” – meaning adventure or venture – and “Tir”, meaning land.
The project has developed out of a growing recognition of the physical and mental impacts on rural communities and individuals by localised issues such as economic inequality, limited employment opportunities, failing transport and support infrastructures and a growing disconnection with nature, coupled with the global problems of climate change, species loss, resource exploitation and the dependence on international supply chains.
The AnTir project seeks to address many of these issues by offering practical training in sustainable land management and food growing techniques in order to boost physical and mental health and wellbeing by reconnecting people with the natural world while also rejuvenating disappearing heritage skills, improving self-sufficiency and food security and improving natural habitats and biodiversity in rural Mid and West Wales.
The project follows widespread consultation with land managers, farmers and conservationists to identify current and future land-management skills shortages across the four counties and similar areas, particularly in relation to traditional and heritage crafts, the disappearance of which is likely to have a long-term negative impact on the landscapes that have shaped rural Mid and West Wales over generations.
Teresa Walters, Tir Coed’s acting chief executive, said: “We are delighted to have received such a significant grant from the UK Government’s Community Renewal Fund to support the feasibility stage of the AnTir project.
“To receive a grant of this size illustrates the very real impact these social and economic inequalities have on rural communities and recognises that the proposals put forward by Tir Coed can go a long way towards addressing these problems for the future.
“By training disadvantaged people in Mid and West Wales to meet the land management needs of the future in a sustainable and environmentally friendly, we can reduce inequalities in health, wealth, training and access to land and green spaces for everyone by improving natural habitats and biodiversity in the areas where we live, work and play.
“Tir Coed has more than 21 years of experience in improving woodlands for public benefit by engaging people through volunteering, training and bespoke activities to increase wellbeing while also developing skills and employment opportunities in rural areas.
“We are extremely grateful to the UK Government’s Community Renewal Fund for supporting the initial feasibility stage of the AnTir project, and we look forward to addressing the current and future needs of rural Mid and West Wales.”