Denmark Farm sets the standard for environmental tourism in Wales

Denmark Farm Conservation Centre has made a great start to 2016 by being the first organisation in Ceredigion to gain an internationally recognised environmental accreditation and finishing 2nd in the International Green Key Best Practice Competition.

Left to right:     Emily Wells from Keep Wales Tidy (Green Key), Mara Morris from Denmark Farm. 

Left to right: Emily Wells from Keep Wales Tidy (Green Key), Mara Morris from Denmark Farm. 

Denmark Farm Conservation Centre is run by the Shared Earth Trust, a registered charity established in 1987 in direct response to the national decline in wildlife habitat and biodiversity of farmland. As well as offering eco-friendly self-catering lodges and campsite, Denmark Farm run a programme of events and workshops developed to engage people with wildlife, sustainable living and natural crafts, ensuring that the environment is at the heart of everything they do.

The Eco Lodge is located in 40 acres of nature reserve with trails around the site leading to wildlife watching hides, ponds, lakes, and meadows, woodland all designed to engage and educate. Rainwater is harvest for use in the toilets and the Sedum roof of the lodge creates a natural habitat for wildlife and insects. The lodges are all heated by a biomass boiler and much of the furniture is made locally.

Denmark Farm Facilities and Events Manager, Mara Morris, says:

"As a conservation charity (The Shared Earth Trust) we were attracted to gain a Green Key Award for our Self-Catering Eco Lodge because Green Key Wales is managed by the environmental charity Keep Wales Tidy. Our ongoing work on the Environmental Action Plan has helped us to consider aspects of sustainability we had never touched upon before and further develop our green offering. Many thanks to Keep Wales Tidy and Green Key Wales for running this excellent and much needed programme".

Ceredigion is known as an area of natural beauty and enjoys a rich tourism industry throughout the year. Ann Eleri Jones of Ceredigion Tourism says:

“Denmark Farm is leading the way for other tourism businesses in Ceredigion.  We hope that other Ceredigion businesses will follow their lead and gain Green Key accreditation to help put Ceredigion on the international map for sustainable tourism.”

Despite the fact that they only got Green Key accredited at the beginning of the year, they already won 2nd place in the Green Key Best Practice competition in February with their WET (Wetland Ecosystem Treatment) System. A system for treating waste water using natural processes.

A WET System has specially designed and constructed ponds and earth banks, densely planted with wetland trees and marginal plants.  As wastewater flows through, it is both purified by microbiological action and transpired by growing plants.  In the process, a beautiful, species-rich wildlife habitat is created, including a willow resource that can be used for basketry, hurdles, garden features or fuel, depending on the coppice cycle.

Additionally, a WET System requires minimal imports of resources – the site’s soil (rather than quarried gravel) filters the wastewater, fossil fuels are only consumed during construction and there is no ongoing electricity use.  In fact, the whole process increases in efficiency over time, as new soil builds up and root systems extend – both of which also increase carbon dioxide storage as biomass, whereas conventional treatment systems need regular maintenance and energy inputs.

‘This ecosystem approach fits our philosophy of working with, rather than against nature. And the beauty of it is that we have fewer costs and many benefits. So why aren’t these systems more common?  One hurdle may be lack of familiarity, which is where we come in.  Our WET System is the first in Ceredigion and one of only a few in Wales – so far!  As a demonstration site, we can show statutory bodies, trainees and visitors the potential for farms and other industries that have liquid organic waste. With biodiversity benefiting too, the future looks bright for wetland wildlife,’ states James Kendall from Denmark Farm. 

A detailed description of the system will soon be available under resources as part of the Best Practice publication.