Thursday, 8 October 2015

The AGM in Wales: Compromise, Cooperation and Communication

Team Photo on Rhiwlas Mountain
By Patrick Laurie

It turned out to be a beautiful day for the Heather Trust’s AGM and discussion meeting yesterday, at Bala in North Wales, with miserable black clouds breaking up by mid-morning to reveal bright sunshine and wonderful views across the wild hills towards Snowdonia.

Almost forty members, delegates and supporters from a wide range of backgrounds including BASC, RSPB, Natural Resources Wales and FWAG Cymru gathered at the Gorwelian Centre for a morning of presentations, which explored the history and future of moorland management in Wales. Ant Griffith of CLA Cymru spoke passionately about the value of the Welsh Uplands, and Will Duff Gordon and GWCT’s Teresa Dent explained the significance of the Nature Fund, which has really sparked off a new wave of upland interest amongst a range of different Welsh stakeholders.

The thrust of the day was extremely positive and progressive, and the value of compromise, cooperation and communication was emphasized in order to ensure that Welsh moorland provides the best outcomes for the widest range of different interests, from farming and sporting to conservation and peat. 

After an excellent lunch, there was an opportunity to visit the Rhiwlas Estate, with owner and land manager Richard Price, who had offered an impression of the estate’s past and future during the presentations in the morning. Gaining height over the large extent of moorland to the North of Afon Tryweryn, the convoy of vehicles trekked along a rough mountain track between Welsh Mountain sheep and a cornucopia of reddening whinberry plants. 

Discussions near the top of the hill ranged from the potential impact of proposals to change rights of access in Wales to the breeding ecology of hen harriers, and the theme of cooperation ran as a constant thread throughout. It is hoped that Rhiwlas might one day be able to provide some grouse shooting again, and the balanced nature of the exchanges tried to ensure that everybody’s voice would be heard as management work begins to pick up over the coming months.

As always, the broad spread of attendees demonstrated the Trust’s “broad church” approach to land management, and we look forward to keeping in touch with our growing number of contacts in Wales as they approach the various exciting, fascinating challenges the next few years will present.

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