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24/08/2017

Wales’s first natural resources policy published

Words: Roger Milne
A rural wind farm - The number of wind farms granted planning permission has more than doubled over the past two years, according to the Department for Energy and Climate Change.

Welsh environment secretary Lesley Griffiths has published the devolved administration’s first-ever natural resources policy.

It sets out three national priorities that aim to drive delivery across the government's well-being goals, for the benefit of communities, the economy and the environment.

The priorities are:

  • The delivery of nature-based solutions
  • Increasing renewable energy and resource efficiency
  • Taking a place-based approach.

The policy sets the context for area statements, which will be produced by Natural Resources Wales. These will ensure that the national priorities for sustainable management of natural resources informs the approach to local delivery.

Natural Resources Wales has taken forward three area trials to pilot this approach. This included the Rhondda Area trial, which focused on the natural assets and opportunities within the area, alongside tackling the issue of wildfires (through the collaborative ‘Healthy Hillsides’ project).

This comprised investment in recreational infrastructure at Llanwynno woodland and Daerwynno Outdoor Centre, working with nature to help restore the natural water environment at Cwmparc (peatland restoration), and providing environmental training for local community groups.

With community groups integral to the overall design, the Llynfi Valley Woodland Creation Project has focused on enhancing ecosystem resilience while promoting health and bringing communities together. Planting broadleaved trees and shrubs has complemented and improved existing habitats and species management and will reduce water run-off into watercourses nearby.

Natural Resources Wales will produce a new report every five years to set out the current best knowledge on the sustainable management of natural resources in Wales.

The focus on nature-based solutions includes approaches to support the development of resilient ecological networks to maintain and enhance the resilience of Wales’s ecosystems through improved green infrastructure. Also involved will be integrated coastal zone management, integrated water resources management and better soil management for carbon storage and sequestration.

Griffiths said: “Everyone has a stake in our natural resources and a role to play in ensuring that these resources are sustainably managed. In Wales, with our abundant natural resources and beautiful landscapes, we are fortunate. At the heart of our well-being, they support our health, our livelihoods and our vibrant culture. But we cannot take this for granted. Climate change, the decline of biodiversity and our ecosystems and other factors are already driving change, with very real consequences for our communities.

“Working with nature and being more efficient with our natural resources has crucial benefits – less pollution, less waste and less impact. Managing them to best effect can play an important role in supporting our communities and future competitiveness, creating jobs and new business opportunities in Wales.”

Image credit | Shutterstock

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