The Environment (Wales) Act 2016 puts in place the legislation needed to plan and manage Wales’ natural resources in a more proactive, sustainable and joined-up way.
Part 1 of the Environment Act sets out Wales' approach to planning and managing natural resources at a national and local level with a general purpose linked to statutory 'principles of sustainable management of natural resources' defined within the Act.
The Environment (Wales) Act sets out the requirement for the ‘sustainable management of natural resources’ together with new ways of working to achieve this. There are 3 main constituents to Part 1 of the Environment Act:
1. The State of Natural Resources Report (SoNaRR)- A report produced by Natural Resources Wales that gives an assessment of natural resources and how well Wales is doing to manage them in a sustainable way
2. Natural Resources Policy - A policy produced by Welsh Government that sets out the priorities, risks and opportunities for managing natural resources sustainably. The policy takes into account the findings of the State of Natural Resources report
3. Area Statements –A local evidence base produced by Natural Resources Wales which helps to implement the priorities, risks and opportunities identified in the National Policy and how NRW intends to address these (commencing from late 2017 onwards)
Biodiversity underpins ecosystems and an ecosystems approach provides a framework for looking at whole ecosystems in decision-making, and for valuing the ecosystem services they provide, to ensure that society can maintain a healthy and resilient natural environment now and for future generations.
The Environment (Wales) Act 2016 puts the ecosystem approach into statute through a set of principles, which are based on the 12 principles of the Convention on Biological Diversity.
The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) defines the ecosystem approach as “A strategy for the integrated management of land, water and living resources that promotes conservation and sustainable use in an equitable way”. In general terms, an ecosystem approach is designed to deliver biodiversity action at a larger scale than a single species or habitat and takes account of the needs of people at the same time. To complement the definition, the CBD define 12 complimentary and interlinked Ecosystem Approach principles
The CBD has also proposed Operational Guidance for application of the ecosystem approach focused around 5 key points.
A number of EU environmental directives are shaped to take an ecosystem approach:
The UK National Ecosystem Assessment is the first analysis of the UK’s natural environment in terms of the benefits it provides to society and continuing economic prosperity. It is based around the processes that link human societies and their well-being with the environment and emphasises the role of ecosystems in providing services that bring well-being to people. There is a specific chapter relating to Wales.
The six key findings of the assessment are:
The TEEB study was a major international initiative to draw attention to the global economic benefits of biodiversity, to highlight the growing costs of biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation, and to draw together expertise from the fields of science, economics and policy to enable practical actions moving forward.
Wales Biodiversity Partnership is working to meet these challenges - to secure a future for biodiversity and for future generations
means "a dynamic complex of plant, animal and micro-organism communities and their non-living environment interacting as a functional unit". (Article 2 of the Convention)
Case Studies in Wales
A range of case studies which demonstrate projects adopting an ecosystems approach in Wales.
Natural Resource Management Trials
The Natural Resource Management trials were set up in early 2014 to test and develop new approaches for carrying out area-based natural resource management planning and Area Statements
Pont is an organisation that encourages and facilitates grazing for the benefit of the wildlife, landscape and cultural heritage of Wales. Pont projects include large-scale habitat restoration in Anglesey, Carmarthenshire and Bridgend.
RSPB Futurescapes Projects
Working in partnership with many organisations, the RSPB Futurescapes initiative is aiming to make UK landscapes more wildlife-friendly and habitats less fragmented.
Wildlife Trusts Living Landscapes Projects
Living Landscape and is a new way of thinking championed by the Wildlife Trusts on how we manage land to do more for wildlife, people and the economy.
Case studies in England
Natural England projects demonstrating how the ecosystem approach and ecosystem services relate to land and water management in the landscape.
Parrett Catchment, Somerset
The Management of the Parrett Catchment, Somerset is a case study which shows how specific tools and methodologies were developed to manage the Parrett river catchment.