27th February 2013 – The Friends Forum

20130207-225853.jpgThe evening started with a presentation by Dave King, events organiser for the Cardiff Rivers Group, supported by Hugh Kettle their social secretary. After an introduction, we watched a video showing some of their litter picking events and interviews with committee members and the public who were asked about their views on the CRG’s work. Dave also showed slides of volunteers hard at work at various sites in and around the City.

imageThe CRG was founded in 2009 with a mission to ‘keep rivers beautiful’ for the enjoyment and use of everyone and with a wider aim to encourage enterprise to the area and, of course, keep the rivers healthy. Their work was initially funded by Keep Wales Tidy and grants from Cardiff Council but now they are almost self funding, having partnerships with private and commercial companies. However, its not all work and no play as this 300 strong group have a very good social programme too!

CRG’s success is due to good communications with their members and publicity via social media, text, emails and local newspapers. At litterpicks the volunteers hand out business cards to interested passers-by and have a very visible profile, wearing their bright red t-shirts. It comes as no surprise that this lively and dynamic voluntary group has recently won prestigious awards from KWT in both ‘River Improvement’ category and ‘Overall Winner’ along with £500 prize money!

The Friends asked Dave about the possible negative environmental impact of some of their work and he told us that they frequently liaise with the environmental agency. On a river clean-up, they will, for example, leave a partly submerged log in the water, providing the flow is not disrupted; such obstacles offer a safe haven for aquatic wildlife.

imageMike, our Chairman followed Dave’s talk with a Powerpoint presentation on the Friends, speaking about our activities in the past year, the Restoration Project and about our plans for the future. He asked for ideas about what you wanted us to organise and talked about designing nature routes around Bute Park, with accompanying leaflets for walkers or cyclists. Jane, our Vice Chair, spoke of the wildlife monitoring that we plan to do in the Park, sending valuable data to SEWBReC. We are going to organise litter picks and balsam pulling events and we’ve already started a huge survey of the Park’s trees, renumbering them as we go, with a view to constructing a detailed tree map. Some of our members are keen to lead guided rambles at different times of year, exploring and identifying the marvellous range of plants, bugs, butterflies, flowers, lichen and fungi to be found on our own doorstep.

Compared with the CRG, the Friends of Bute Park is a relatively new venture but we are growing in number and are an enthusiastic bunch. If you love the Park as much as we do then come and join us – what would you like to do? Pick up litter? Pull up weeds? Note down wildlife? Work with rangers? Tag along on our walks? You’d be very welcome!

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