In the summer of 2014 the Welsh Government introduced a £6m Nature Fund in efforts to tackle the continued decline in biodiversity across Wales in a collaborative area-based approach. The fund is limited to 2014/2015 with some flexibility for the first quarter of 2015/16. This investment followed the findings of the State of Nature Report which showed many species to be in decline and was described as a ‘wake-up call’ by the Welsh Government.
The Welsh Government developed their approach to the Nature Fund by taking ideas from NGOs, land managers, farmers, woodland managers, SMEs and local authorities (of which 460 were received in total) to identify how to ‘increase the scale of action to address the root causes of the decline’.
The then Minister for Natural Resources and Food, Alun Davies, announced that the principal focus of the Fund would be investment in seven Nature Action Zones.’ The Nature Action Zones identified were:
- Brecon Beacons;
- Cambrian Mountains;
- Conwy Valley;
- Pembrokeshire coast;
- South Wales Valleys;
- Berwyn and Migneint; and
- Llyn Peninsula
Five priorities for investment within these geographical areas were identified; action to improve river catchments; action on marine ecosystems; action for local environment; action to realise the potential in upland areas; action to stimulate innovation. Details of these five priority actions can be found here.
The Welsh Government also committed to investing a proportion of the Nature Fund to improving the management of land with low ecological value, for example, by establishing deciduous woodlands and increasing native wild planting.
In November 2014 the Minister for Natural Resources, Carl Sargeant, announced a further £3m funding.
Twenty projects (Figure 1) are receiving funding from the Nature Fund out of the 62 applications which were received. Projects range from work to improve river catchments and marine ecosystems, to peatlands restoration and a community project managing woodland.
Figure 1. The 20 projects and their locations currently receiving funding from the Nature Fund. Source: Welsh Government.
Further details of the projects and the level of funding awarded can be found here. Some examples are given below:
Natural Buzz- £130,000:
The project, led by Keep Wales Tidy, aims to maximise multiple ecosystem services of currently undervalued green sterile spaces by introducing wildflowers.
Berwyn and Migneint, Black mountains and Radnor upland recovery- £241,800:
This project, managed by the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group (FWAG), aims to support landscape-scale species recovery and wider ecosystem service delivery. The project will focus on restoring and safe guarding peat bogs.
Pollinators for life project- £282,100:
This project, led by Torfaen County Borough Council, aims to undertake a range of initiatives to promote long term sustainable land management and to improve habitats and conditions for all pollinating species across the South Wales Valleys.
Pond Connections- £63,000:
This project, led by ARC Trust, brings partners together for pond creation and restoration and habitat restoration for over 30 sites in the south Wales Valleys, Brecon Beacons and Pembrokeshire Coast Nature Action Zones.
Elenydd Purple Moor Grass- £152,000:
This project, led by the Cambrian Mountains Initiative, undertakes and evaluates different approaches to the management of Molinia and researches potential uses of Molinia.
Connectivity Work in the Duhonw Catchment- £128,000:
This farmer led project seeks to build ecosystem resilience with the establishment of wildlife corridors which will deliver wider environmental benefits including improved water quality and storage within the catchment.
Future Fisheries Living Seas – £62,000:
This partnership proposal is to provide information to help promote low impact fishing practices which will enable species and habitats to recover. This information is not readily available at present and using this will help to engage fishermen in taking forward a sustainable approach to fishing.
Article by Katy Orford, National Assembly for Wales Research Service.