Introduction to Mid Wales Area Statement
Mid Wales is an area covering about a third of...
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These Area Statements summarise discussions from the last couple of years. We are continuing engagement on Area Statements and are adapting our plans for future events and workshops.
Whilst working on this theme we looked into the current relationship between people and the natural world. We wanted to better understand just how much we all value the natural environment and how we interact with the landscape. How do we make decisions that help make our ecosystems more resilient to the challenges and emergencies we face, such as climate change?
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Natural Resources Wales (NRW) describes biodiversity and ecosystem resilience in our Vital Nature report:
Biodiversity means the variety of life on earth – plants, animals, fungi and microorganisms. It includes both genetic diversity within a single species, and the diversity that exists across all species. Biodiversity is also not just about species but the variety of ecosystems they inhabit, which exist at a range of scales, such as from an individual soil micro-habitat to a whole landscape.
‘Ecosystem resilience’ is the ability of ecosystems to cope with pressures, disturbances and change – either by resisting them, recovering from them or adapting to them. Achieving ecosystem resilience is about working at a larger scale, promoting functional connections between natural places, ensuring they have high natural diversity, are in good condition and increasing their extent. Biodiversity is an essential underpinning element of all ecosystems.
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The ecosystems within our natural environment provides a wide range of ‘services’ on which we all rely to survive. Such ‘ecosystem services’ include;
About 30% of Wales' land and waters are designated as protected sites. These areas make a significant contribution to improving and maintaining the resilience of ecosystems across Wales, particularly in response to the range of human pressures we place on our environment.
Whilst designated sites provide protection for nationally important habitats and species, such sites are becoming increasingly fragmented and isolated which means they become less resilient to change. Designated sites cannot sustain themselves on their own. The way the wider landscape is managed - farmland, water bodies and river catchments, forestry and uplands - all play a critical role in supporting the long term health of protected sites and biodiversity. There needs to be a greater focus on having ‘buffer areas’ to provide links for nature, and taking a more holistic approach to managing our whole landscape.
Under this theme, we all need to work towards ensuring our environment is managed appropriately and more sustainably for future generations.
Invasive non-native species (INNS) are defined as any non-native animals or plants that can spread outside their native range causing damage to the environment, the economy, our health or the way we live. Invasive non-native species have been deemed the biggest threat to our native species and habitats after climate change and are estimated to cost the Welsh economy £128m annually.
Widely spread invasive non-native species in Mid Wales include Japanese knotweed and Himalayan balsam and are a particular problem along the Rivers Wye and upper Wye catchment, Usk, Rheidol and Teifi.
Despite concerted efforts, often an absence of continued management of these species results in them slowly returning to an area. Rhododendron is also an issue in Mid Wales, affecting both woodlands and protected sites.
The main areas of focus under the Improving Biodiversity theme are:
The above list of points are designed to provide guidance and help set priorities, for projects and collaborative working. They are not exhaustive and do not exclude any newly emerging issues, ideas or solutions.
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By approaching the nature emergency together in Mid Wales, we aim to achieve:
The Area Statement will work to ensure our actions deliver across public, private and voluntary sectors, delivering for biodiversity in collaborative ways.
Making any long lasting positive changes to our environment takes time. There are no easy overnight quick fixes. The Mid Wales Area Statement allows us better opportunities to prioritise how we can work together as a society to change behaviours and attitudes towards our natural environment.
Through our engagement events, we learnt that there is a detailed and evidence based understanding of what biodiversity means and how we need to create resilient ecosystems to support species, habitats and human populations.
Together, we need to support the communities and economy of Mid Wales to be able to prosper, whilst meeting the needs of the natural environment.
In the development of the Area Statement, NRW used a range of evidence based resources, including the State of Natural Resources Report (SoNaRR) and the Welsh Government’s Natural Resources Policy. We also sourced information from the Powys & Ceredigion Well-being Plans and the Public Service Boards (PSBs) to join up with their priorities and Wellbeing Objectives, based around local need.
We involved our stakeholders throughout the process, and continue to do so.
A number of engagement workshops were held to ask our stakeholders what they wanted to see as part of the Mid Area Statement.
Since initial publication in March 2020, we continued to engage with our partners and stakeholders despite the difficulties associated with a global pandemic. We were enthused at the passion and enthusiasm of our partners and stakeholders in helping us continue to drive the Mid Wales Area Statement forward, and for this we would like to thank everyone who has contributed so far.
Figures reflective of engagement events carried out 2019-2021
It was clear from the engagement and feedback that the Area Statement process is new for everyone involved and the ‘new way of working’ continues to represent a significant shift from how we have all worked in the past. Success requires continued learning, reflection and adjustment in the way we all work.
The 2022 review of the Mid Area Statement is designed to update this core text to reflect the natural development of the Area Statement over the first 2 years. The changes since initial publication demonstrate how the area statement process has naturally evolved, based on ever-improving evidence from both NRW’s work and stakeholder input. Our engagement will continue as the Area Statement matures, develops and evolves.
Our engagement events encouraged discussions around the type of projects and areas of interest that stakeholders are keen to work on. We want to encourage and progress opportunities for collaboration.
An ‘Improving Biodiversity Peer Group’ has been established to provide a forum for all those organisations and individuals in Mid Wales who want to address the nature emergency and reverse the loss of biodiversity. We hope that this will enthuse and enable different stakeholders to work together and coordinate ideas to achieve shared outcomes.
Through engaging with stakeholders, we have been able to work together to identify the area themes for Mid Wales. Conversations and discussions have given us an understanding of the issues and pressures faced by different stakeholders, sectors and communities. We hope that this approach signals a new way of working for Natural Resources Wales where we move away from ‘consultation’ and towards ‘collaboration’ and enabling action on the ground, even if that remains an uncertain journey for many as we progress with the Mid Wales Area Statement.
There is already a vast spectrum of excellent work being carried out with passion by the people of Mid Wales. Good practice should be celebrated and learnt from. To build on this, the Area Statement directs us to share information and understanding from our respective projects and together design innovative ways to continue to address new challenges.
Natural Resources Wales (NRW) has begun work to identify networks where projects with similar focusses could join up and work collaboratively. There is an intention in Mid Wales to bring together stakeholders who may not have traditionally worked alongside each other, but who together, can deliver outcomes which have multiple benefits. This approach has been adopted by the Ceredigion and Powys Public Service Boards (PSBs) of which NRW is a key partner organisation.
There will be opportunities for financial support to deliver projects and ideas through Natural Resources Wales’ grant funding system. Please contact us for further details of the current grants available, or see NRW’s grants page.
Some suggested ideas for further opportunities to progress to tackle the nature emergency in Mid Wales;
There are still opportunities to further discuss and develop how we can continue to shape these changes, together.
You can join us on Facebook! The Mid Area Statement Facebook group is one way for you to keep up to date with news and developments on the Mid Wales Area Statement. Anyone can join in the online discussion. The group is currently set to private, although we encourage you to spread the word amongst colleagues and contacts who you think would be interested. You will be asked three simple questions to join the group to ensure we keep the members and content relevant to the Mid Wales Area Statement.
We will also be holding further events and developing specific groups and conversations around each of the Mid Wales Area Themes. If you are already on our mailing list, you will be contacted about these. If you would like to be added to this list, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
We need to continue to develop the Area Statement together, to tackle the nature emergency in Mid Wales. The Area Statement belongs to us all - everyone who wants to be involved - and we would like to encourage as many as possible to come aboard at any point to help develop the Area Statement as a continually evolving process. If you would like to be part of this process, please get in touch with us.
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