Fersiwn Gymraeg ar gael yma

Guest blog by Sharon Thompson, RSPB Cymru Head of Policy & Advocacy

There is no doubt that Welsh nature needs all the help that it can get in 2019. Last year was a year of continued hardship for many of our much-loved species of birds. We witnessed accelerated declines of our farmland birds including curlews, greenfinches, starlings, yellowhammers, kestrels and rooks as well as declines in migrating species, particularly African migrants such as swifts and cuckoos.

I’m hoping that Mark Drakeford, Wales’ new First Minister, will be the person who leads on delivering the change nature needs. In his campaign manifesto, he made restoring nature one of his top policy priorities because he recognised that all is not well with our environment; biodiversity is in decline and our ecosystems are not resilient.

In response to these challenges he suggested that Wales invests more in rural areas to enhance biodiversity and promotes industries that protect, rather than damage the natural world. Like RSPB Cymru, he supports a future farming policy that pays farmers to deliver public goods like clean air, water, increased soil health and carbon storage.

"He made restoring nature one of his top policy priorities because he recognised that all is not well with our environment; biodiversity is in decline and our ecosystems are not resilient..."

He is passionate about putting sustainable development at the heart of Government and used the Native American proverb ‘We do not inherit the earth from those that come before us, we borrow it from those that come after us’ to describe his understanding of the principle. One of his early decisions will be on whether or not to send in the diggers on the M4 relief road which will be a test his commitment to sustainability. Investment in sustainable transport around Newport and south-east Wales would be the obvious sustainable alternative.

His manifesto includes a commitment to develop an Environmental Growth Plan for Wales, aimed at halting and reversing the damage already caused to our natural environment. If the new First Minister can carry forward this high-level ambition through into office with the determination to bring his new Cabinet with him then things will be looking up for Welsh nature.

So, I’m crossing my fingers, as it looks as though the gift of goodwill for Welsh nature has been delivered. . The new First Minister has the potential to deliver the change nature desperately needs and to show strong environmental leadership across Government. So here at RSPB Cymru, even in these most challenging times, we’re heading into 2019 with refreshed motivation to continue campaigning for better laws and policies for restoring nature in Wales.

Featured image: Ring ouzel by Andy Hay.

Anonymous