Brownfield sites, i.e., abandoned industrial sites, and waste-ground areas can support surprisingly high levels of biodiversity, particularly compared to large areas of the wider countryside in Wales. These habitats are important educational resources in towns and cities and are among the most powerful illustrations of how nature can reclaim areas, no matter how industrialised, through successional processes. The image above is from Kladno in the Czech Republic and shows a steelwork site that was abandoned in 1989, at the end of the Communist period. At this point a decision was made to let nature take its course and use the site, and nearby coal spoil tips, for educational purposes. The area now has interpretation boards and attracts educational trips for schools. Furthermore, specialised botanists and ecologists are employed to visit cities, towns and villages throughout the country and organise school visits to local brownfield sites to help illustrate what the flora and fauna of these places can tell them about the local history of their areas. It is easy to see how similar visits to areas of Cardiff and Barry Docks, for example, could be used for similar purposes. The nature reserve at Parc Slip near Bridgend is another example of how nature can recolonise former industrial areas, though in this case with some forward planning by visionary members of the local Wildlife Trust.
There is a real danger is that if we do not take children to places where they can see nature in their local environments then they will grow up unaware of it and not valuing it: this will not only negatively impact on their quality of life as adults, it will also guarantee that biodiversity issues slip off the political agenda as a future priority. People generally do not value what they cannot see.