by Liz Smith, Policy Officer for Wales Environment Link
on 18 September 2017
Wales has seen some ground breaking environment and wellbeing legislation in recent years, and now there’s a chance to strengthen the sustainable management of natural resources policies.
Over in Wales, our Assembly Members (AMs) in the National Assembly have voted through the Environment Act which enshrines the importance of the sustainable management of natural resources, otherwise known as ‘SMNR’. Alongside this we have the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act, which ensures all public bodies - be that government, councils, the NHS or the emergency services - have the sustainable development principle at the core of their decision making processes.
What does this mean in practice?
The two Acts combined should ensure that our environment is protected and any future developments are carried out in a sustainable way. SMNR is about making sure our habitats and ecosystems are resilient enough for us to use and that we act to preserve and enhance their condition for the future.
We’re still embedding this principle of ‘SMNR’ and a large consultation is underway which Wales Environment Link is responding to. The Welsh Government has very specific proposals in several areas that it’s asking for people’s views on. These include:
Extending access to the countryside, including woodland and rivers
Changing the purposes of National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and how their special qualities are defined
Suggesting ways to better manage our fisheries
Strengthening the protection of ancient trees
And asking how we can implement a ‘circular economy’, where we reduce our waste and increase how we recycle and re-use materials, without impacting poorly on our environment.
How can people get involved?
There's a lot of ideas in there and it's important that everyone in the environment sector - and anyone who cares about protecting our natural resources for future generations - is aware of, and can respond to, the consultation with their ideas on the best way forward.
Wales Environment Link has 29 members that represent a diverse set of interests from the environment, countryside and heritage sectors. Some of our members' are encouraging their own individual supporters to get in touch with the Welsh Government – such as the Open Spaces Society, the Snowdonia Society, the Youth Hostel Association and the British Mountaineering Council – are also asking their own members to get involved.