NEWTOWN'S newly appointed open spaces ranger has more than 30 years’ experience as a countryside professional to his name.

Dewi Morris, 59, from Llansantffraid, says he’s looking forward to engaging with the people of Newtown in his new post with Open Newtown, a not-for-profit community enterprise.

“I relish the opportunity to create and lead a team to achieve a clean, safe and well maintained healthy habitat for Open Spaces Newtown, its flora and fauna and people,” he said.

“Newtown’s parks and green spaces are of a significantly higher biodiversity value than most urban areas. They have potential to become even more biodiverse and to provide quality opportunities for the community.

“During this time of pandemic lockdown, people have had more time to focus on the environment where they live and how they can improve their surroundings.

“My professional background is as an urban ranger and my previous roles have been to engage with people of all ages and abilities as well as the environment. Public engagement and support are fundamental to the success of what Open Newtown wants to achieve.

Dewi has a wide range of experience. He worked as a senior countryside ranger managing parks and green spaces for Essex County Council Country Parks Service, Stockport Metropolitan Borough River Valley Warden Service and Daventry District Council’s Countryside Management Service in Northamptonshire.

“The key skills I bring to my new post are my absolute love and commitment to the natural world and, in particular, my passion for the Welsh Borders landscape,” added Dewi. “I have years of direct experience working with external partners, landowners and contractors.

“My responsibilities included successfully applying for funding, developing riverine habitats of private and public, open, green spaces through a wide variety of activities using full-time staff, contractors and recruiting, training and working with volunteers of all ages and abilities.

“Since returning to the Welsh Borders in 2010, I have been reunited with its landscape, people, language and heritage that originally inspired me to become a countryside professional.”

He was appointed community projects officer by Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust after three years as a community arts development officer for Arts Council Wales based in Llanfyllin. He is also a qualified BCU canoe and kayak instructor.

Having volunteered with Cain Valley River Group in Llanfyllin, where he worked alongside Severn Rivers Trust officers, he became a consultant responsible for various activities working with the community, including Newtown’s Salmon Festival.

Dewi is also a judge for the Green Flag Award, the benchmark standard for publicly accessible parks and green spaces in the UK.

Educated in Shrewsbury, he graduated from Worcester University with a degree in geography and went on to achieve post-graduate diploma in countryside management and business management.

He also has his own business, Close Encounters with Nature, which provides advice on woodland and conservation management and organises and leads practical experiences for schools and people of all ages and abilities in and around Shropshire and Powys.