In March 1990 a Friends group was formed to contribute in whatever way possible to the protection and development of the Forest Farm Country Park and the Glamorganshire Canal Local Nature Reserve, and to promote the study of flora and fauna in their natural habitat.
The Friends group is a not-for-profit organisation run by a committee of volunteers and governed by a constitution. We work in partnership with Cardiff Council’s Community Park Rangers.
The Nature Reserve was formed in 1967 and includes the last remaining stretch of the former Glamorganshire canal, which ran from Merthyr Tydfil to Cardiff. The canal still holds fresh water of a high enough quality to provide a good hunting ground for kingfishers, herons and many others species.
Forest Farm, including the Local Nature Reserve, was designated a Country park in 1992, thereby increasing the area to over 150 acres. The western boundary of the park is the River Taff and the Friends have agreed to look after a 2.5 kilometre stretch of the river bank.
The majority of the woodland is beech and oak with several trees being over 200 years old. Long Wood and the canal are designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
Over the years the Friends, working with Cardiff Council, have created a series of ponds, scrapes and wetlands which encouraged water-loving birds to feed and nest on them. These can be viewed from two bird hides. A winter-feeding area for birds was established in 2001 and is very popular.
Forest Farm is under constant threat from developments on its borders, so an essential part of the Friends’ work over the years has been either stopping them where possible, or working constructively to get significant concessions from the developers.
The membership of the Friends currently stands at just over 400. On the second Sunday of each month there’s a volunteering session, and on the third Saturday of each month we hold a walk around the reserve, from 10:00 am to 12:30 pm, to learn about the flora and fauna, and to recognise and record the birds that use the reserve. Other walks are arranged during the summer, while in the winter talks and social events are held indoors.
The Friends also publish a quarterly newsletter — members get an exclusive first-look at each new copy!