Treherbert & Black Mountains College Partnership
We are delighted to have been asked to deliver our further education courses in Treherbert in partnership with trail-blazing community group Welcome to Our Woods. This is a pioneering community project under the headline ‘Project Skyline’ that began as a community consultation on managing the re-forested spoil heaps around the former mining town of Treherbert, on the southern boundary of the Brecon Beacons National Park. Since the 1970s the spoil heaps have been colonized by trees, linking up with a Site of Special Scientific Interest to create a rich new woodland.
Welcome to Our Woods have invited BMC to partner in training people to grow food and manage the woods as part of a larger Lottery Climate Action Fund bid with multiple partners.
Where is Treherbert?
Situated at the top of the Rhondda Fawr valley, Treherbert is a village overlooked by the spectacular flat-headed spur mountain, Pen Pych.
What is Project Skyline?
Project Skyline has been in the works for the past few years, and the overall aim is to give local people the means to shape their own environment.. Not in a fragmented approach, and not a small patch of land just for a few years, but providing hundreds of hectares to locals for use for hundreds of years – to the “skyline”.
Project Skyline looks to offer local communities the chance to see their values and visions for the future reflected in the way land that surrounds them is managed. The initial feasibility work identified what a community might choose to do with land if they could plan for many years to come.. would they create jobs from forestry? Support small-holdings or food projects? Improve public access? Support wildlife? Or a combination of these ideas? This work was completed in 2019 with funding from the Friends Provident Foundation. You can read the full Skyline Feasibility Report.
Skyline is about land, people and imagination.
The Skyline project seeks to reconnect communities in the South Wales Valleys with the landscape that surrounds the town and aligns greatly with BMC’s vision – imagining a different future! Imagine a future in which land is managed sustainably to meet the needs of the people who live there in a way that doesn’t compromise the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. This also aligns with the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act which requires public bodies in Wales to consider the long-term impact of their decisions, to work better with people, communities and each other, and to prevent persistent problems such as poverty, health inequalities and climate change.
Giving communities a connection to landscape can provide income, jobs, a place of social and cultural activity, and a home for nature. A psychological bond between community, economy and landscape is forged. It is a mistake to see these post-industrial landscapes as abandoned or of no ecological importance. The coal spoil sites are the home to species of conservation concern. There is the opportunity for land use change to provide spaces and projects for nature’s restoration.
More recently, Project Skyline was revisited through the Future Forest Vision community/NRW co-design process through 2021-22 with more partnerships formed. This consists of 8 visions,
- Growing Food: experiment with growing food within sections of forest (agroforestry) as well as growing food under cover for local people.
- The Forest as a Place for Learning: the forest will be a resource for learning for everyone.
- Generate Renewable Energy: generate renewable energy from the landscape and to be able to use it to meet the needs of local people.
- Promoting Physical and Mental Wellbeing: develop spaces in the forest that people can enjoy to promote good mental and physical health.
- Making the Forest Accessible: make the forest to be as accessible as possible for locals and visitors.
- Cwm Saerbren Nature Reserve: a long-term vision to create a reserve across the cwm.
- Forestry Social Enterprise: establish a social enterprise that will be capable of supporting paid employees to undertake a range of forest management tasks.
- Plant the Next Generation Forest: planning sustainable forestry to create jobs and supply timber for future generations.
Where does BMC come into things?
BMC is integral in providing education and training for local people within the area, which will in turn allow the Skyline vision to materialize. We need to teach people how to manage land sustainably, how to provide for themselves, how to utilize the Earths natural materials to our benefit in a viable manner, how to grow food, how to manage the local woodlands and restore nature, and how to ensure there is a future for the generations to come..
We will equip our students with real-life, practical skills that are necessary in this changing world. These skills will support them in shaping their own environment. We aim to provide life-long learning, whilst offering work experience, community-based, and volunteering opportunities to prepare students for work after their studies, within relevant sectors where the skills they learn are in very high demand.
As with our Further Education courses in our Talgarth location, we will embed students education within the community in Treherbert, so that the learning will have positive social and ecological outcomes too, making the training meaningful and urgent, and the lessons learned durable and transferable.
Learning in context, on the land, in ecosystems, within economies and social structures and organisations is what applied, experiential and problem-based learning is all about. We are helping to create a future in which nature and human societies thrive.
What courses are being offered?
NVQ L2 in Regenerative Horticulture
This course is ideal for students who want to further their experience of working in horticulture to increase their ability and confidence. You will study in beautiful, real-life, community-based training settings. After this course, students may be able to move into a higher level course, or start a career in gardening, landscaping, garden design, food production, plant science.. the list goes on! You may even decide to set up your own business, become self-employed or go down the route of a horticultural teaching assistant or technician yourself! Whatever you decide, your studies will support you.
Our emphasis is on sustainability and ecology, so you will also learn about the soil biome – the crucial importance of soil ecology and the reasoning for the need to use no-dig techniques (biomimicry) to protect and enhance that environment.
NVQ L2 in Sustainable Coppicing & Greenwood Trades
This course will help you to develop skills and knowledge for a successful and rewarding career in woodland management and timber work. Coppicing is an approach that can increase the biodiversity of woodland, as well as provide a sustainable source of timber for green wood products and energy. Students will study in beautiful and unique woodland settings.
Gain skills and knowledge about woodland management, for minimum impact, safety, biodiversity, and sustainable green wood use. Within this NVQ, students will also undertake a Chainsaw Maintenance and Training Course, providing you with an additional, sought-after qualification.
After this course, students may be able to move into a higher level course, or use their transferable skills for employment opportunities in the trees and timber sector. You could start a career as a tree surgeon or woodworker, making and selling your own products. You could even start your own business and become self-employed, or go down the teaching route to pass on the skills you have learnt with us!
NVQs are FREE for anyone living in the UK who is aged 16 or over.
For more information on any of these developments please visit our website
To help teach on these courses keep an eye out on our vacancies page, here