Mae fersiwn Gymraeg ar gael yma.
I spent last weekend in north and mid Wales, showing RSPB trustees some of our work to restore wetlands on Anglesey, peatbogs at Lake Vyrnwy and, with colleagues from Snowdonia National Park, the amazing lichen-rich oak woodlands of Meirionnydd: our Celtic Rainforests. It was an uplifting few days, the undimmed passion for nature from our volunteers and staff providing sunshine and hope in a weekend of autumnal weather.
We all need such hope, especially when you hear first-hand from people who are witnessing and recording the depletion of nature in Wales. That wealth of data, counting and identification by thousands of people – many of them expert volunteers – has been used to compile State of Nature 2019, published today. I’d urge you to read the whole report if you can, but at least to look at the summary for Wales.
So, what does it tell us?
The main message is that there is, sadly, no let-up in the declines in nature nor the pressures it faces. Wales is no different to any other country: we are experiencing an ecological emergency. This matters. We depend on nature, for the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink and the places we enjoy. And because nature has an intrinsic value, and we have a responsibility to maintain the amazing and wonderful diversity of species and habitats.
Caption: Red squirrel (above) and hawfinches (below), two species under risk of extinction in Wales
Is the Welsh Government listening?
Earlier this year, First Minister Mark Drakeford declared a climate emergency. Just two weeks ago, thousands of young people (and quite a few older ones) took to the streets of Wales to shout for action to address the twin crises facing climate and nature. The support for our Let Nature Sing campaign shows there is strong public support to address the ecological emergency in tandem with the climate emergency.
State of Nature 2019 is backed by several government bodies, including Natural Resources Wales. The validity of the science is not in doubt. Just last week, Welsh Government published Wellbeing 2018-19, its annual report on how Wales is progressing on its seven well-being goals. Hats off to the Government for collecting this data and producing such a report; it’s one of the few countries in the world to do this. It stems from the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act 2015, which RSPB members strongly supported during its passage through the Senedd.
Is the Welsh Government acting?
We’ve heard the fine words, and we don’t doubt the commitment, but this requires action without delay. Here’s five things highlighted by State of Nature 2019 where nature needs speedy action:
And that’s where you, our supporters, can help today and provide even more hope. We believe that using taxpayers’ money to pay farmers and land managers for delivering public goods such as clean water, clean air, carbon storage and wildlife, while supporting sustainable food production, is critical to turning around nature’s decline. We can all help this by calling for a better future for nature, for farming and for the people of Wales.
State of Nature 2019 does provide hope; there are some fantastic conservation projects in Wales, and I’m immensely proud of the leading role that RSPB Cymru plays in some of those. But these projects need to become mainstream, we need Welsh Government leadership to ensure that Brexit doesn’t leave the environment poorer: that environmental protections are enhanced, there is a strong watchdog to champion and enforce conservation, and binding nature recovery targets to ensure that future Welsh Governments take transformative action to drive nature’s recovery.
Next time State of Nature is published, my hope is that I won’t need to write this again.
Images in the order they appear: Louise Greenhorn, Ben Andrew, Eleanor Bentall (all rspb-images.com)
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