Athletics champ Alaw laps up forestry experience

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Welsh ladies 5,000 metre cross-country champion Alaw Beynon-Thomas took things a little more slowly recently when she went behind the scenes to see how Forestry Commission Wales looks after the Welsh Assembly Government’s woodlands.

Alaw, who has just completed the second year of a geography degree course in Aberystwyth University, joined the Planning Team in the Commission’s Llandovery office as part of the Welsh-medium environmental sponsorship scheme, AmNawdd.

The long-distance Welsh international runner worked alongside FC Wales Conservation Ranger Marie George - herself a recent Aberystwyth University graduate – to gain a valuable insight to how our woodlands provided a wide range of environmental benefits and essential wildlife habitats for some of our most endangered species.

Alaw, a member of Carmarthen Harriers athletics club, spent five weeks undertaking a variety of important conservation and woodland management tasks right across the district, from Pembrokeshire in the west to the Wye valley in the east.

The former pupil of Ysgol Stradey, Llanelli helped to update a suite of internationally-important Atlantic Upland Oakwood management plans in the Brechfa forest area.

She also helped to survey sites for European Protected Species (EPS), including birds and archaeology, as part of a management plan for areas where trees are due to be felled in 2012.

During her placement with Forestry Commission Wales, Alaw commuted to Llandovery from the family dairy farm in Pontardulais, near Swansea.

The AmNawdd scheme is co-ordinated by a partnership between the Countryside Council for Wales, Forestry Commission Wales and Environment Agency Wales.

The aim of the scheme is to increase the number of Welsh-speakers working in environmental fields. AmNawdd gives £1000 in sponsorship to students who are following an environment related course at a Welsh university and who are studying at least 40 credits through the medium of Welsh.

Students are also guaranteed a suitable work placement for which they receive a bursary of £500 to help with the costs of carrying it out.

Alaw, who won this year’s Race for Life in Aberystwyth in aid of Cancer Research UK, said, “I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Llandovery Forest District and met a lot of nice and interesting people, as well as gaining valuable experience.”



The Amnawdd scheme provides sponsorship for students following environmental courses in Welsh universities, and who are studying at least 40 credits through the medium of Welsh over three years.

It is run in partnership between the Countryside Council for Wales, Forestry Commission Wales and Environment Agency Wales.

Students receive £1000 in sponsorship during the course, as well as carrying out a five week work placement with bursary of £500 to help with the costs. Up to 40 students are sponsored each year under the scheme.

Amnawdd aims:

  • to increase the numbers of Welsh-speakersworking in environmental fields
  • to promote and increase Welsh-medium provision in the higher education sector in environmental fields
  • to provide career opportunities for Welsh-speakers in environmental fields by providing suitable and relevant work placements.

Forestry Commission Wales

About 14% of Wales is covered by woodlands. Of this, 38% (126,000 hectares/311,000 acres) is owned by the Welsh Assembly Government.
Forestry Commission Wales is the Welsh Assembly Government’s department of forestry and manages these woodlands on its behalf.

Forestry Commission Wales provides advice on forestry policy to the Minister responsible for forestry. It provides grant aid to the private sector and regulates forestry by issuing felling licences.

Forestry Commission Wales is also part of Forestry Commission GB and contributes to the international forestry agenda.

More information on the woodlands of Wales is available on

For more information on Alaw’s placement, contact Marie George, Conservation Ranger, on 01558 690333, mobile 07747 532 780.

Media enquiries to Forestry Commission Wales Information Officer Clive Davies on 0300 068 0061, mobile 07788 190922.