Fersiwn Gymraeg ar gael yma

Guest blog by Tabea Wilkes, RSPB Cymru Policy Project Officer

The Well-being of Future Generations Act is an innovative piece of legislation that gives us a powerful basis for protecting our environment and restoring nature.

The first in the world to create a legal responsibility to work towards the well-being of both current and future generations, the Act sets out seven goals that public bodies must work towards.

The status of biological diversity – aka the variety of plants and animals – is an indicator that relates to the ‘Resilient Wales’ Well-being Goal. This includes a Wales that ‘maintains and enhances a biodiverse natural environment with healthy, functioning ecosystems that support social, economic and ecological resilience’.

In short, this means that a resilient Wales equals a Wales that’s richer in nature!

Welsh Government recently published a consultation on National Milestones – a legal requirement under the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act. In the consultation, Welsh Government is considering creating ‘milestones’ for a small set of the current national indicators – i.e. the way in which the success of the seven goals is measured.

Included in this set is an indicator of the status of biological diversity in Wales. It is this indicator that provides a basic measure of how well nature is doing as it measures species decline to show if enough is being done to restore nature.

The current status of biodiversity in Wales is alarming. This State of Nature report showed that 40% of the bird species assessed are in decline and that some species such as curlew, lapwing and golden plover have declined by 80% in Wales in recent decades.

As well as providing us with the food, air and water that we need to survive, nature is also at the foundation of much economic activity in Wales. It also has many proven benefits with regards to both our mental and physical health, as well as children’s learning and development.

In short, improving the status of our biodiversity will provide a broad range of benefits, and will contribute to the achievement of the suite of Well-being Goals.

The WFGA is backed up by the Environment (Wales) Act which sets out a framework for the sustainable management of natural resources. This in turn, we think, should be enhanced by long term targets and milestones to ensure that policies and actions are up to the significant challenge of restoring nature. 

If nature is to continue looking after us and future generations, then progress on reversing biodiversity decline must be a part of how we measure the Act’s impact – including the scale and pace of change. We therefore welcome Welsh Government’s proposal to develop a National Milestone on the status of biodiversity and look forward to supporting its development. For more information, please email tabea.wilkes@rspb.org.uk