Conservation at heart of Natural Resources Wales
Blog based on essay from Sarah Wood, NRW’s Biodiversity Manager, printed in the Western Mail 24 May 2016
The trails at Bwlch Nant yr Arian, near Aberystwyth, have now reopened as the second phase of tree felling moves past the half way mark.
Blog based on essay from Sarah Wood, NRW’s Biodiversity Manager, printed in the Western Mail 24 May 2016
Natural Resources Wales (NRW) has a Tree Health Team dedicated to stop and deal with infection and infestation, here Andrew Wright, explains his team's work spearheading the "Keep it Clean" campaign.
Information about our organisation, the work we do, our news, consultations, reports and vacancies.
Find out how we assess if a business complies with environmental legislation, details of our charges and if a site has a permit, licence or exemption.
Find places to go and things to do in the outdoors. We’ve got lots of information to help plan your visit.
Our role in planning and development and what you need to do to protect wildlife, landscape and people if you are a planning a development.
Our approach to gathering evidence, what information is available, and where you can access it.
Find out how to get involved with us and the land we manage, and details of our work with community groups and social enterprises.
Information about the Welsh forest industry and our management of the Welsh Government Woodland Estate.
Advice to those working in the farming sector and details of our role in supporting the development of a sustainable agricultural industry Wales.
Find out more information about how we help conserve the wildlife and biodiversity in Wales.
Learn about your flood risk and what to do during a flood, including how to sign up for flood alerts.
Information for waste sites, including details of the landfill allowance scheme and statutory recycling details for local authorities.
When I see people commenting that NRW doesn’t care about nature conservation, it hurts. It hurts because it isn’t true. The protection and care of our natural environment is central to what we do at NRW. And it’s also at the heart of why many of us work for NRW. Protecting, improving and enhancing our environment is one of the reasons why many of us get out of bed in the morning. We conserve, we enhance, we create in order to provide a healthier and more resilient environment for the species and habitats of Wales, because our wellbeing, and that of future generations, depends on this. We know that despite decades of good work to protect the environment, many of our plants and wildlife continue to decline. So yes, we’re trying a different approach, doing it differently to the way we’ve worked in the past – because we’ve had to accept the old way didn’t always work. The traditional environmental protection approach only took us so far But we’re not throwing the baby away with the bathwater – we’re building on the skills, knowledge and experience that NRW and its predecessor bodies have invested in, and built up, over many years. Key to our new approach is the fact that we’re looking at the whole picture, integrating biodiversity commitments and improvements into all of our work. Understanding the impact that our work has on a whole ecosystem – and looking to create multiple benefits in all of our work. We are doing this to ensure that the natural resources that we’re here to protect – our air, land and waters – work as hard as possible to provide a home for the rich, diverse and valuable wildlife that we have in Wales. And to ensure that they can continue to do so in the future. It’s still early days and we’re learning all the time. We’re modifying our ways of working, training our staff, changing our processes and implementing new legislation. And we’re having to do this in a challenging financial situation. But our staff care deeply about the work that they do – and NRW’s is absolutely committed to creating a better future for Wales by managing the environment and natural resources sustainably. Looking at the bigger picture Despite the pressures on our natural and financial resources, we’ve already delivered projects that reflect this new way of working, projects that are reaping rewards for the environment, society and economy. Here are just three examples: We know that around 760 properties were at risk of flooding in Pwllheli, and by taking the bigger picture we’ve restored a wetland habitat and re-established the links between the springwater and marshland. Degraded areas of peat have been restored and is now teeming with wildlife, including the narrow-leaved marsh orchid and the hornet robber-fly. On top of that, as water is held in the ground for up to a week, it also drains away slowly reducing the downstream flood risk to the people of Pwllheli By tackling pollution from an old metal mine in Ceredigion, we’ve prevented up to 15 tonnes of toxic metals from entering streams and polluting the River Ystwyth each year. But it’s not just water quality and river life that will benefit - the landscape at Frongoch is already turning greener as we see rare mosses and lichens return that have not been seen there for decades The Wildwood in the uplands of Ceredigion was once planted with Sitka Spruce trees. We’ve cut down and sold the timber and we’re replanting new wet woodland as well as blocking drains to raise the water table. This re-wetting is conserving the carbon stored in the peat and storing water that can reduce the effects of drought during dry summer spells. These changes will create habitats that can support many declining species –including birds like merlin, nightjar and crossbill. Working with the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales, we’ve created several ponds that are now being used by water voles Making some difficult choices The pressures on public sector budgets and our financial resources means that we’re having to make some very difficult decisions on where we concentrate our efforts. Yes, you may have read that NRW has had to re-consider its substantial support for the production of Natur Cymru. This has been one of those difficult decisions. But after 15 years of support from the public purse, we’re hoping that there are enough people who have read, enjoyed and valued its contents to ensure its viability into the future and we have been working with the Board of the magazine to help develop this new model. Biodiversity – a responsibility for all I am proud of the progress we are making in mainstreaming biodiversity improvements across the organisation. We still have a lot to do but I want every member of staff to feel that they are making a valuable contribution. We know that when nature is at its best, society as a whole thrives. And we also know that if we look after nature, the environment will continue to sustain our communities and economy.
Dr Tom Stringell, our Senior Marine Mammal Ecologist, provides advice on marine turtles and marine mammals such as whales, dolphins, porpoises, and seals. Tom also advises on policy initiatives and potential impacts from marine developments. Here Tom tells us more about the turtles which visit Wales and the threats they face… Wildlife is an important part of our environment, our heritage and our culture in Wales and it is important that we work to protect them. Part of my job is to ensure marine turtles are protected. Natural Resources Wales (NRW) does this by considering marine turtles in marine planning, and sustainably safeguarding their environment so they can continue to flourish here. Leatherback turtles, or Dermochelys coriacea, are summer visitors to Wales and the seas around the British Isles. Although they are cold blooded, they can elevate their body temperature and withstand our cold waters. Adult leatherbacks will take on epic migrations every year or so. They travel around 7000km from tropical waters where they nest, to colder waters where they feed. Despite their large size (up to 2m long and around 700kg) they feed on jellyfish; and they seem to like our local barrel jellyfish (Rhizostoma octopus). On their journey, leatherback turtles are at risk from accidental capture in fishing gear like longline fishing in offshore waters, or being entangled in fishing gear ropes in coastal waters. The biggest leatherback turtle ever recorded was an adult male that washed up dead at Harlech beach, North Wales in 1988. It weighed 916kg and sadly had drowned after getting entangled in fishing gear. Turtles also face risks at their distant nesting grounds where they can be killed for their meat, their eggs might be harvested, or their beaches can be disturbed or destroyed by coastal developments (often for tourism). It is because of these dangers that all sea turtle species are considered threatened and are highly protected by various legislation such as the Wildlife and Countryside Act in the UK, the Habitats Directive in Europe, and the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Despite all of the risks turtles face, several populations in the Atlantic are increasing thanks to conservation efforts. Turtle Strandings Other species of sea turtle are frequently sighted in our waters or strand on our shores. These ‘hard-shelled’ species are often blown off course in storms and are cold-stunned in our waters. The winter of 2015/16 saw 3 green turtles (Chelonia mydas) being washed up on our shores in Wales – more than any previous year. We think this was due to the persistent stormy weather we had in the North Atlantic last winter. We also recorded 9 Kemp’s Ridley (Lepidochelys kempii) turtles washed up in the UK, 2 of these were in Wales. This is the rarest of the world’s seven sea turtle species and is critically endangered. This species declined to a few hundred nesting females in the 1980s at a single beach in Mexico. The decline was due to egg harvesting and ‘bycatch’ in trawl fisheries - bycatch is the capture of non-target species such as dolphins, marine turtles and seabirds in fishing gear. Since then, conservation measures have helped the species to recover to over 10,000 breeding females which nest around the Gulf of Mexico. NRW supports the Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme in Wales by recording turtle sightings and strandings on the Welsh coast. This data is then pulled together to form the TURTLE database which has over 2600 records dating back to the 18th Century. If you find a stranded marine mammal or turtle Please report any strandings by calling 0800 652 0333 or visit www.strandings.com for more information. For more information on what to do if you find a stranded turtle, and how to identify different species, read 'The United Kingdom Turtle Code'. The life of a sea Turtle Marine turtles leave the nest as hatchlings and swim out to sea. There, they generally feed on the invertebrates found in floating mats of seaweed. They spend several years feeding, growing and drifting in the ocean currents. When they grow to about the size of a dinner plate, they venture to coastal feeding grounds to grow and mature (although leatherbacks and olive Ridley sea turtles spend most of their lives in the open ocean). The turtles reach adulthood some 20 or 30 years later, and it’s at this point that they are ready to migrate back to the waters that they themselves first entered as hatchlings. Here they mate and the females crawl up the same beach that they hatched and lay several clutches of eggs over a period of a few weeks. They then migrate back to their foraging grounds and repeat this process a few years later.
We’re not necessarily talking hiking up mountains – but gentle, low-impact exercise that’s easy, free and available to everyone In this blog, Bronia Bendall, NRW’s Health and Wellbeing Policy Advisor, gives you 10 reasons why walking rocks! 1. Walking strengthens your heart Reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke by walking regularly. It’s great cardio exercise, lowering levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol while increasing levels of HDL (good) cholesterol. The Stroke Association says that a brisk 30-minute walk every day helps to prevent and control the high blood pressure that causes strokes, reducing the risk by up to 27 percent. 2. Walking lowers disease risk A regular walking habit slashes the risk of type 2 diabetes by around 60 percent, and you’re 20 percent less likely to develop cancer of the colon, breast or womb with an active hobby such as walking. 3. Walking helps you lose weight You’ll burn around 75 calories simply by walking at 2mph for 30 minutes. Up your speed to 3mph and it’s 99 calories, while 4mph is 150 calories (equivalent to three Jaffa cakes and a jam doughnut!). Work that short walk into your daily routine and you’ll shed the pounds in no time. 4. Walking prevents dementia Older people who walk six miles or more per week are more likely to avoid brain shrinkage and preserve memory as the years pass. Since dementia affects one in 14 people over 65 and one in six over 80, we reckon that’s a pretty great idea. 5. Walking tones up legs, bums and tums Give definition to calves, quads and hamstrings while lifting your glutes (bum muscles) with a good, regular walk. Add hill walking into the mix and it’s even more effective. Pay attention to your posture and you’ll also tone your abs and waist. 6. Walking boosts vitamin D We all need to get outside more. Many people in the UK are vitamin D deficient, affecting important things like bone health and our immune systems. Walking is the perfect way to enjoy the outdoors while getting your vitamin D fix. 7. Walking gives you energy You’ll get more done with more energy, and a brisk walk is one of the best natural energisers around. It boosts circulation and increases oxygen supply to every cell in your body, helping you to feel more alert and alive. Try walking on your lunch break to achieve more in the afternoon. 8. Walking makes you happy It’s true – exercise boosts your mood. Studies show that a brisk walk is just as effective as antidepressants in mild to moderate cases of depression, releasing feel-good endorphins while reducing stress and anxiety. So for positive mental health, walking’s an absolute must. 9. Walking relieves work stress Walking gives you time to think. Getting out of the stressful environment, breathing the air, and feeling your body move is natural stress-relief. A walk in a park at lunchtime rather than walking the pavements will decrease anxiety and increase working memory performance. 10. Walkers Live Longer A Study of 8000 people found that walking just two miles a day cut the risk of death almost in half. The walkers' risk of death was especially lower from cancer. Other studies have had similar findings - if you keep walking, you improve your chances of a longer and healthier life. So walking for 30 to 60 minutes each day is one of the best things you can do for your body, mind, and spirit. Most of the woodlands and National Nature Reserves managed by NRW are open for walkers. There are waymarked routes through these special places as well as facilities such as visitor centres and information panels to help people make the most of their visit. The free ‘Places to Go’ App and our web pages at http://cyfoethnaturiol.cymru/out-and-about/places-to-go/?lang=en (you can download the App here too!) shows you where you can go and what you can do in Wales’s public forests and National Nature Reserves. And if you fancy a longer hike why not check out the Wales Coast Path http://www.walescoastpath.gov.uk/?lang=en or try out one of Wales’s National Trails http://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/
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