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Summit to Sea aims for better future for land, sea, people and nature

£3.4m secured for ground breaking scheme in Mid Wales, currently advertising for a Director. And Coed Cadw (Woodland Trust) is part of the project.

An ambitious project has been launched in Mid Wales aiming to restore flourishing ecosystems and a resilient local economy, on a scale never before seen in Britain.
The scheme will bring together one continuous, nature-rich area, stretching from the Pumlumon massif - the highest area in mid-Wales – down through wooded valleys to the Dyfi estuary and out into Cardigan Bay. Within five years it will comprise at least 10,000 hectares of land and 28,400 hectares of sea.

Summit to Sea will involve:
• restoring natural processes that provide the ecological functions on which we all depend
• bringing communities together to create a shared vision for the future
• supporting the local economy to diversify and establish new nature-based enterprises.

This will result in more opportunities for communities and visitors to mid-Wales to reconnect with the rich natural and cultural heritage of the area.
The project has secured £3.4m of funding from the Endangered Landscapes Programme, which is backed by Arcadia, a charitable organisation. This is new money, from outside Wales. It will support a significant, sustained effort to create new opportunities in the project area, and infrastructure to deliver change into the future.
These opportunities will be developed through dialogue with local stakeholders, but they could include practical actions such restoring peat bogs, adjusting grazing patterns to improve biodiversity, restoring ancient woodlands that have been planted with conifers or creating new areas of woodland to link existing habitats.

The project is being led by Rewilding Britain in collaboration with The Woodland Trust (Coed Cadw). Other partners are ecodyfi, Marine Conservation Society (MCS), Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust (MWT), Natural Resources Wales (NRW), PLAS Marine Special Area of Conservation, RSPB, Wales Wild Land Foundation, and Whale and Dolphin Conservation.

Iolo Williams welcome

The project has been welcomed by TV Naturalist Iolo Williams who says: “It’s fantastic to see a large, landscape scale project being planned in Wales. If we are to secure the survival of much of our threatened wildlife, this has to be the way forward.”

One person who has been working locally preparing for the project is forester Huw Denman. He says: “I’ve been helping Summit to Sea with community engagement, knocking on doors of farmers, in particular, and landowners, just to give them a bit of forward warning that the project exists. I’ve drunk a lot of tea and eaten a lot of Welsh cakes and been made to feel very welcome. Farmers and landowners, they’re very concerned about maintaining their presence in the area. Collectively, as communities and families. They see the present time as changing times, with all the threats and opportunities presented by Brexit, and also Common Agricultural Policy reform.

“I think what’s really important with the Summit to Sea project is this sense of ownership. From my point of view, it’s not just to do with the environment, or ecology, or wildlife, it’s very much to do with the human ecology, and community, and culture. That resonates very much for me in Wales because, as somebody who’s from Wales, I’m a Welsh speaker, all my relatives are Welsh speakers and I’m from a Welsh speaking community. I think that has to be valued equally as much as the environment. I think one supports the other.”

We need a coordinated effort between landowners, communities, farmers and fishers

Natalie Buttriss, Director of Wales for the Woodland Trust says: “A vision of this scale requires a coordinated effort between landowners, communities, farmers, fishers, foresters, public bodies, NGOs, businesses and relevant experts. A locally-led Summit to Sea partnership has been established to co-manage the project which is likely to lead to a legal entity in the future that allows for revenue and other benefits to be shared. Local people - stewards of the land and sea, and the wider community - will play an integral part in shaping and co-designing the project.”

Rebecca Wrigley, Chief Executive of Rewilding Britain, says: "I’ve been involved in conservation and community development programmes around the world for over 25 years now. More than at any other point I feel that we have a moment of opportunity, to demonstrate that renewal and hope is possible, for us, for the places we live in and for wild nature."

Dr Peter Richardson, Head of Ocean Recovery at the Marine Conservation Society said: "Right now there is great public interest in how we can better look after the Ocean. Through Summit to Sea we are very much looking forward to working closely with local sea-users and coastal residents within the southern stretches of the Pen Llŷn a'r Sarnau Special Conservation Area to see how those communities can benefit from conservation of their local sea and shore."

Job opportunity

The project is currently advertising for a Director, based in North Ceredigion or North West Powys, someone with leadership skills, drive and experience to work collaboratively to turn a pioneering but challenging project into reality. The ability to communicate in Welsh is highly desirable.

More information at the Summit to Sea website.