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Ambitious Mid Wales rewilding project ruffles feathers

Words: Roger Milne
Cardigan Bay, Wales / Shutterstock_482715130

An ambitious project launched in Mid Wales that aims to restore flourishing ecosystems and a resilient local economy on a scale unparalleled in Britain has ruffled feathers in the farming community.

The scheme, known as Summit to Sea, will bring together one continuous, nature-rich area, stretching from the Pumlumon massif – the highest area in Mid Wales – down through wooded valleys to the Dyfi estuary and out into Cardigan Bay.

Within five years the initiative is set to encompass at least 10,000 hectares of land and 28,400 hectares of sea.

Summit to Sea will involve:

  • Restoring natural processes that provide key ecological functions;
  • Bringing communities together to create a shared vision for the future; and
  • Supporting the local economy to diversify and establish new nature-based enterprises.

The project has secured £3.4 million of funding from the Endangered Landscapes Programme, backed by Arcadia, a charitable organisation, and is looking to appoint a director. This is new money, aimed at creating opportunities in the project area and infrastructure to deliver change.

Typically, this could include practical actions such as restoring peat bogs, adjusting grazing patterns to improve biodiversity, and restoring ancient woodlands that have been planted with conifers or creating new areas of woodland to link existing habitats.

The project is being led by Rewilding Britain in collaboration with The Woodland Trust (Coed Cadw). Other partners include Ecodyfi, Marine Conservation Society, Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust, Natural Resources Wales, PLAS Marine Special Area of Conservation, RSPB, Wales Wild Land Foundation and Whale and Dolphin Conservation.

Natalie Buttriss, director of Wales for the Woodland Trust, explained: “A vision of this scale requires a coordinated effort between landowners, communities, farmers, fishers, foresters, public bodies, NGOs, businesses and relevant experts.

“A locally led Summit to Sea partnership has been established to co-manage the project which is likely to lead to a legal entity in the future that allows for revenue and other benefits to be shared. Local people will play an integral part in shaping and co-designing the project.”

The BBC has reported that farmers unions and landowners are sceptical about the scheme and worried that the project would stop farming. The groups involved insist this is not the case.

Image credit | Shutterstock