Project Skyline is a feasibility study that is looking at the possibility of communities managing the landscape that surrounds their town or village.
What would happen if we handed to local people the means to shape their own environment? Not the current piecemeal approach, a small patch of woodland for a few years, but hundreds of hectares for hundreds of years – to the “skyline”. What might a community choose to do with the land if it could plan not for the three years of a Lottery grant but for three generations? Create jobs from forestry? Support small-holdings or food projects? Improve public access? Support wildlife? Or a combination of ideas and more besides.
Project Skyline is seeking to answer these questions. We have been working with three communities in the Valleys – Treherbert, Ynysowen, and Caerau – as well as all of the key stakeholders such as Natural Resources Wales and the Local Authority, to understand whether and how land that is currently publicly managed could be managed by a local community.
The feasibility study is being run by The Green Valleys with funding from the Friends Provident Foundation.
What does the feasibility study involve?
The most important aspect will be working with communities to explore what it might mean and to understand the risks and opportunities. The feasibility project is seeking to answer some of the following questions:
- What is the best way to govern a community land project? How do you ensure inclusivity and fairness? What is the experience from Scotland and elsewhere in Europe?
- Are there sustainable business models that will mean that the community is not reliant on continual grant income? What are the capital and skills required to realise the ideas that have been developed by the community?
- What is the environmental impact of any change in land use? How can we ensure that we improve and don’t further damage the landscape?
- What are the legal implications of the transfer of management responsibility?
All of this work has been driven by the vision that the community will develop for their landscape – their plans and visions for the next 5 years and the next 100 years!
What happens at the end of the feasibility study?
This will very much depend on the outcome of the feasibility study. Potentially a community may be able to put the plans into practice if we can demonstrate that social and economic benefits of community land management outweigh the risks – and crucially – that there is widespread support for the idea across the community. We will also need to demonstrate, to the satisfaction of the current landowners and managers, that community management can bring benefits to everyone.
But is a journey into the unknown. This hasn’t been tried in Wales before, so there is no certainty where we will end up!
Imagine my Valley
This post is also available in: Cymraeg