Thursday, 4 July 2013

CLA Cymru Moorland Initiative

I was pleased to attend a meeting organised by the CLA in Wales last week, to lend support to their initiative that is considering how best to support upland managers across Wales.  With the recent formation of Natural Resources Wales (NRW) as a successor body to the Countryside Commission for Wales (CCW), in combination with the Forestry Commission and the Environment Agency in Wales, there is an opportunity for moor owners to develop new relationships with the Welsh Assembly Government and its agencies

In England and in Scotland, I believe that the role that landowners and land managers can play in helping the government agencies realise their ambitions for the uplands is now better understood and the relationship between the different organisations is improving, although there is always room for improvement.

In Wales, I believe that there is much more scope for improving relationships and perhaps there are lessons that can be learned from elsewhere.  From the views expressed at last week's meeting, there is little doubt that the previous arrangements for managing the Welsh uplands have not been a success and that under NRW the regime should be changed.  There may be some resistance to drawing on ideas from elsewhere,  but I would suggest that this should be very acceptable if it leads to faster improvements in the state of the moorlands and uplands in Wales.

I think back to my test when reviewing the condition of an upland area.  Stand on a high point and look around.  Ask the question, 'Is this how I would like it to be?'  If, as is all too often, the answer is no, the follow up questions must be, 'What needs to be done, who is going to do it and how is the work to be funded?'.  There needs to be a lot of mountain climbing in Wales to look at the views.

There will always be a shortage of funding and in simple pragmatic terms, if some landowners want to fund some management work that will improve the uplands with a view to one day shooting a few grouse, where is the sense in opposing this?  Every source of income needs to the exploited to the full.

I am pleased to be supporting this initiative and I wish it every success.