About Us

Gwern y Domen

Tangible economic benefits to protecting, enhancing and utilising nature for the wellbeing and resilience of our nation

If our ecosystems are properly cared for they could add an extra £30bn to the UK’s economy UK National Ecosystem Assessment (2011). The UK National Ecosystem Assessment: Synthesis of the Key. Findings. UNEP-WCMC

Spending time in nature provides protection against a range of diseases, including depression, diabetes, obesity, ADHD, and cancer.

  • The survival of older people increases where there is more accessible greenspace space near their homes.
  • People recover from illness quicker if they can see nature from hospital windows.
  • Students with greater “exposure to greenness show better academic performance
  • The psychological benefits of plants (including office plants) make people feel more comfortable, less stressed, 15% more productive and 40% more satisfied with their work.
  • Workers who can see a green environment from their desks experience 23% less time off sick than those that have an entirely urban view.
  • People living near greenspace experience fewer physical and mental health  problems than those living in more built up areas
  • 94% of people report better physical and mental health after green exercise

Gwern y Domen …

is a rural area of outstanding natural beauty in the south Wales countryside midway between the mediaeval fortress town of Caerphilly (Caerfilli) and the rural village of Rudry (Rhydri), eight miles north of Cardiff.

Gwern y Domen is the small hill (bryn) surrounded by common land and gives its name to a rural farm and associated grazing lands and pastures.

The whole area of Gwern y Domen is rich in wildlife and is an area much used for rural leisure, walking, jogging, cycling and riding.  The site is widely treasured for its tranquility in the midst of an area of South Wales that is otherwise greatly scarred (and deprived) by its industrial history.

And so it  is that Gwern y Domen is so much more than ancient farmland with breath taking wildflower meadows, it is the glue which binds us from the most deprived to the most privileged in a common struggle to protect our identity against any who would divide us.

What we do

The therapeutic value and feeling of wellbeing people get from taking walks in the countryside,  gardening, growing their own food and by being in and looking after the environment has a strong impact on our physical and mental wellbeing. It helps us to strike a balance as we cope with life’s challenges. From evidenced research it’s clear that reconnecting people with nature has a role to play in building and supporting our wellbeing and resilience, and keeping us all healthy. There are tangible mental wellbeing benefits from being physically active and simply by undertaking activities in a nature or countryside environment seems to do this without the individual even realising it. It’s also clear that it’s something that appeals to a wide range of people, men, women, young, old, urban and rural.

Gwern y Domen Conservation group aim to engage people within its community, helping to strengthen local social and community networks for a wide range of people. Its activities provide help for people to gain knowledge and learn new skills or rediscover those long forgotten or longed for– and in some cases give people the confidence to get back into work or just back to a healthier lifestyle and mind-set, all whilst bringing valuable benefits to the local environment.  Gwern y Domen members and volunteers actively get involved in the maintenance and conservation of the countryside and those valuable green spaces around us.

Mental & physical health problems carry a cost not only to the individual in poor health, potential loss of employment and other opportunities but also for the government too.  These problems place increased demand on health and care services and can result in losses to tax and national insurance contributions from people unable to work, an economic impact that affects us all.

Resilience is the capacity to be able to confront and cope with life’s challenges; to maintain wellbeing in the face of adversity, taking advantage of our free ‘Natural Health Service – Nature’ where we can improve that resilience resulting in tangible, positive, social, environmental, cultural and economic outcomes.

A Healthier Wales is a wealthier Wales.  The project aims to meet all of the Wellbeing goals to create a vibrant and resilient sustainable community

Our natural environment is important because once it’s gone it’s gone forever!

Our activities

Engage to protect the future of this beautiful rural countryside for the benefit of wildlife, the environment and the well-being of present and future generations.

Our activities include

  • What’s on the menu – Foraging event
  • Wildflower walk & talk
  • Wildflower seed harvesting
  • Bat & Moth talks on location
  • Fungi forage
  • Nature lives litter kills – litter pick
  • Star gazing – night time in the meadows who goes there.
  • Harvest blessing
  • Charity walks (Children in Need, Marie Curie, Velindre and Macmillan Cancer research)
  • Tea party in the meadows
  • Gwern y Domen – A healthier Wales is a wealthier Wales
  • And we are currently organising a park run and a women’s walking club

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Conservation

Gwern y Domen is rich in wildlife, including rare flowers, a diverse array of waxcap fungi, ancient woodland, birds and mammals small and large, including colonies of at least three European protected species – brown long-eared bats, dormice and great crested newts. Part of the site is designated as Special Landscape Area (SLA) and adjoins an area of Special Interest for Nature Conservation (SINC) all important foraging corridors and fragile habitats for wildlife.

History and Archaeology

Gwern y Domen is an areas of unique historical and archaelogical interest in the Caerphilly basin with remains from iron age settlements, a mediaevel fort motte and bailey and early industrial revolution workings.

Planning strategy

The Gwern y Domen hillside has been strongly protected as a valuable greenfield site in all previous Local Development Plans (LDP), recognising its importance for wildlife, for environmental protection, and as easily accessible rural countryside for the leisure, health and well being of the local communities in the heavily populated south of the borough.

This protected status must not be lost.

Political influence

Planning decisions are recommended by planning officers of the council and accepted or rejected by the council. To protect Gwern y Domen against adverse decisions we have to influence the political decisions at the UK, Assembly and local Borough levels. The council and its officers must be held to the promises, policies and legislative frameworks for a green and sustainable future at all three levels.

Proposed Changes