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Seventeen projects are receiving a share of £3.78 million of funding to help Wales’ network of protected land and marine sites to thrive, and encourage local communities to get involved in nature conservation.

The fund will benefit a range of species including native oyster, great crested newt, bats, birds, bumblebees and help tackle invasive non-native species. Protected sites which support habitats including marine, riverine, ancient woodland, and traditional hay meadows will also benefit from the funding. The projects will help people connect with nature and engage with citizen science projects.

The Nature Networks Fund is being delivered by The National Lottery Heritage Fund in Wales on behalf of the Welsh Government and in partnership with Natural Resources Wales.

Read more about the successful projects using the links below.

NRW

National Lottery Heritage Fund

Dune slacks at Kenfig NNR © Sean McHugh

Negotiations at the COP 15 summit went down to the final hours before an agreement to put humanity on a path to living in harmony with nature by the middle of the century was signed off. The Kunming-Montreal biodiversity framework was formally adopted at the summit and sets out four global goals and 23 targets all designed to “halt and reverse biodiversity loss” by 2030.

The agreement signed by over 200 countries, commits governments to conserving nearly a third of Earth for nature by 2030 while respecting the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities.

To achieve this, a target was agreed to ensure that by 2030 at least 30 per cent of areas of degraded terrestrial, inland water, and coastal and marine ecosystems are under effective restoration, in order to enhance biodiversity and ecosystem functions and services, ecological integrity and connectivity are under effective restoration.

There was also agreement for targets to be set for countries to reduce subsidies deemed harmful to nature; establishment of a new mechanism to share the benefits of products built using genetic data from microbes, animals and plants; an aim to mobilise $200 billion a year in public and private funding by the end of the decade; a call for people to be “encouraged and enabled to make sustainable consumption choices”; measures to encourage and enable business by governments to ensure that large and transnational companies disclose “their risks, dependencies and impacts on biodiversity”.

The framework requires countries to align with the Kunming-Montreal biodiversity framework in domestic policy by updating national biodiversity strategies and actions plans. The new agreement specifies government planning, accountability and transparency is embedded into the framework in contrast to the previous Aichi targets which countries failed to meet by the end date of 2020.

A link to all the targets announced at the conference can be found here and supporting documents can be found here.

Some observers expressed disappointment at the weaker-than-hoped-for language on consumption and pesticide use, both significant drivers of biodiversity loss. The term “nature positive”, which some scientists had said would be the biodiversity equivalent of “net zero”, did not appear in the agreement.

The Minister for Climate Change Julie James MS attended the summit and gave an oral statement at the Senedd on the 10th January. In the statement the Minister committed to implement the Kunming-Montreal biodiversity framework by developing legally binding nature targets, underpinned by a new strategic biodiversity action plan for Wales.

The Minister was clear that a whole society approach is required to deliver the global framework and the need to ensure the voices of local communities are heard to help shape and contribute to our approach and reflected on the challenge to mobilise nature finance into Wales without the greenwashing.

The adoption of a plan of action on subnational Governments, cities and other local authorities for biodiversity was significant and Wales will work with regional and subnational Governments to share knowledge to promote and deliver action for nature. This important step sees the UN formally recognise the vital role subnational and local governments play in driving and delivering action for nature.

Two major projects have been given the green light to protect, enhance and help restore nature and the environment in Wales – great news to help tackle the Nature Emergency.

These projects, supported through the EU’s LIFE Programme and match funded by the Welsh Government, will ensure that the £13.8 million cash injection will breathe new life into urgent conservation challenges over the next five years.
More than nine million pounds will be invested into bringing four Welsh rivers into good condition – the Teifi, Cleddau, Tywi and Usk. An estimated 500km of river will be improved.
Just over £4.5 million will conserve quaking bogs – so called because of the way this peatland habitat literally shakes under your feet! The largest of the last remaining quaking bogs in Wales is Crymlyn Bog on the outskirts of Swansea.

Four Rivers for LIFE will:

  • Improve river habitats and conditions for migratory fish – most notably Atlantic salmon, sea and river lamprey, bullhead and shad. Otters and freshwater pearl mussels are set to benefit too;
  • Re-profile sections of canalised rivers so that they meander once again – great news for wildlife. But also for people, as slowing the flow can reduce flood risk downstream;
  • Work with farmers to protect river corridors and reduce sediments and nutrients from entering rivers. This will have the added benefit of safeguarding important drinking water supplies.

LIFE Quaking Bog will restore seven Special Areas of Conservation, four of which are National Nature Reserves, by:

  • Getting the water level right for quaking bogs’ specialised plantlife and wildlife;
  • Controlling scrub and non-native invasive species that can smother the natural habitat;
  • Reintroducing traditional grazing;
  • Improving access so that more people can experience and enjoy nature at its best.

Four Rivers for LIFE will be run by NRW in partnership with the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority, River Restoration Trust, Coleg Sir Gâr and the Woodland Trust, with additional financial support from Dŵr Cymru/Welsh Water.

NRW’s LIFE Quaking Bogs partners are the National Trust and the Snowdonia and Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authorities.

Text courtesy of NRW

Image © Sean McHugh

Conference summary

Delegates enjoyed a varied program at this year's conference covering national policy and nature recovery initiatives, marine conservation work, the National Nature Service, nature financing and the work of local nature partnerships and community groups. We learnt about the recording of veteran and ancient trees and biosecurity measures. We also gained insight into the development of the Natur am Byth program and the preliminary findings of Natur a Ni - a conversation with the people of Wales around the future of Wales’ natural environment.
A key conference announcement by Welsh Government, tripled the target for peatland restoration to boost nature recovery and tackle climate change.

You can watch back all conference sessions here.The morning of Day 1 of the conference focused on the recommendations of the Biodiversity Deep Dive in developing a set of collective actions we can take in Wales to support natures recovery. The 30x30 target was chosen as a strategic focus for the purpose of the deep dive. 30x30 refers to protecting and effectively managing at least 30% of our land freshwater and sea for nature by 2030. It is one of a number of targets which form part of a new Global Biodiversity Framework to be agreed at COP15 later this year.

This will feed into a revision of the Natural Resources Policy and the National Biodiversity Strategy (currently the Nature Recovery Action Plan) to reflect deep dive recommendations and the post 2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.

You can read the Biodiversity Deep Dive recommendations here

In the longer-term, Welsh Government will develop primary legislation to set overarching nature recovery targets and establish an environmental governance body, and a suite of more detailed statutory nature recovery targets focussed on achieving environmental outcomes and delivering Wales’s contribution to the post 2020 global biodiversity framework.


Nature and Us

NRW have published the Nature and Us research report summarising the findings from the first phase of the national conversation on what future we want for our natural environment in Wales. Respondents expressed concerns about the environment in Wales and the top 3 concerns noted are:

  • Decline or extinction of animal and plant life
  • Climate change
  • Pollution of rivers, lakes, and ground water

This report sets out the findings of phase 1 of a national conversation about the natural environment for Wales. The national conversation ‘Nature and Us’ was commissioned by Natural Resources Wales to develop a shared vision for the future of the natural environment for Wales. Phase 2 of the national conversation will contain measures to broaden the discussion in order to reach individuals from communities who are under-represented to date.

Read more here

UK Birds of Conservation Concern 5th Report

Commonly referred to as the UK Red List for birds, the status of birds has now been reviewed five times, Covering the UK, Channel Islands and Isle of Man. The latest review was published in December 2021, as Birds of Conservation Concern 5 (BOCC5).

This updates the last assessment in 2015. Using standardised criteria, experts from a range of bird NGOs, including BTO, assessed 245 species with breeding, passage or wintering populations in the UK and assigned each to the Red, Amber or Green Lists of conservation concern.

At 70 species, the Red list is now longer than ever before, and is almost double the length of that in the first review in 1996. New Red-listed species include swift, house martin, ptarmigan, purple sandpiper, Montagu’s harrier and greenfinch. The length of the Amber list has also grown by seven species. There has been no improvement in the overall status of species associated with farmland and upland, or Afro-Palearctic migrants. Encouragingly, song thrush, pied flycatcher, grey wagtail, redwing and black redstart have moved off the Red list to Amber, but the first three species remain close to the Red list threshold.

Birds of Conservation Concern is compiled by a coalition of the UK’s leading bird conservation and monitoring organisations and reviews the status of all regularly occurring birds in the UK, Channel Islands and Isle of Man. The report acknowledges the tremendous efforts of thousands of voluntary and professional surveyors who have collected data on our avifauna, without whom such assessments would be impossible.

Text based on BTO source

The Conservation Partnership | Curlew Wales includes details of new 'Important Curlew Areas' that will provide a focus for future conservation activities. This Wales Action Plan for the Recovery of Curlew was prepared by Gylfinir Cymru / Curlew Wales at the recommendation of Welsh Government to promote the conservation of Eurasian curlew in Wales. The curlew is in urgent need of coordinated UK and Wales conservation action and is a Red‐listed Bird of Conservation Concern in Wales.

Curlew

Curlew © BTO

Nature Emergency in Wales declared

On 30th June 2021 the Senedd declared a Nature Emergency in Wales and recognised that the nature and climate crises are inextricably linked. This reinforces the Senedd’s declaration of a climate emergency in 2019. Welsh Government confirmed it planned to establish an independent environmental watchdog for Wales and will be looking at biodiversity targets in the context of both the UN global biodiversity framework and the UK framework which are under development, and to ensure targets drive action to address the climate and nature emergencies.

Senedd Plenary record (listed under Plenary Item 7)




hedgehog

The status of the 49 mammal species found in Wales was last comprehensively assessed in 1995. Published in October 2020, The State of Mammals in Wales summarises our current knowledge, reporting population sizes, geographical ranges, trends and, for native species, their Regional Red List status according to International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) standards.Beaver and wild boar were excluded from the assessment owing to uncertainty about their status in Wales. Most species had either increasing (26%) or stable (43%) ranges. All of the non-native species recently introduced to Wales have increased their geographical range. All naturalised species – that is, all those that have arrived since the formation of the English Channel but before the end of the 12th century – also have increased or stable ranges, with the exception of the black rat, which is now possibly extinct. The deer and carnivore groups include the most species with increasing ranges; indeed, all deer species in Wales are now found over larger areas than they were 20 years ago. The rodents, shrews, brown hare and hedgehog have largely stable ranges. The range trends for harvest mice and for most bats are unknown, because of radical changes in survey methodology over time, and, for many species, a general lack of monitoring information.


There are currently many opportunities for the conservation of mammals in Wales. The country remained a stronghold for polecats when they all but disappeared from the rest of the UK; current efforts to reinforce pine marten populations have been extremely successful; and Anglesey retains a key area for red squirrels. There are also significant populations of greater and lesser horseshoe bats, with evidence of an increasing northward spread, possibly reflecting changing climatic conditions. However, wildlife in Wales also faces challenges from the needs of expanding human populations, requirements for agriculture and forestry, and the presence of invasive non-native species. Through a series of case studies, The State of Mammals in Wales places the assessments of conservation status in context.


Text sourced from State of Mammals Report


bee

Buglife Cymru have launched their Wales Threatened Bee Report, the first report of its kind to examine the health of our most threatened wild bees in Wales.

The report highlights some of Wales’ rarest and most threatened wild bees and the positive things we can do to help these species, ultimately ensuring they

do not go extinct in Wales. The report has found that seven of our bees have gone extinct in Wales, and a further five – such as the Long-fringed mini-mining bee

(Andrena niveata) - are on the brink of extinction. Most of the wild bees species assessed by the report have suffered significant declines, including the Shrill carder bee

(Bombus sylvarum) whose core populations are now confined to South Wales, raising concerns about the future prospects of these species.




Image Buglife


The Peoples Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) have produced a useful new guide for ecologists, land managers and consultants who are looking for advice on how to better manage greenspaces to support local hedgehog populations; this includes any greenspaces from parks, recreational grounds and golf clubs, to churchyards, allotments and school grounds.

hedgehog

Hedgehog © David Cooper / PTES

Species Champions initiative

The Wales Environment Link (WEL) Species Champions initiative asks Assembly Members to lend political support to the protection of Wales’ special and threatened wildlife by becoming ‘Species Champions’. The project aims to highlight the incredible diversity of nature in Wales. Assembly Members will be able to champion a wide variety of species from the Welsh clearwing moth to a fungi named dark purple earthtongue, the greater horseshoe bat, harbour porpoise and Europe’s largest wading bird, the curlew. The work of Species Champions will be important in ensuring that Wales meets the international target under the Convention on Biological Diversity to halt the loss of biodiversity by 2020. It will also help to ensure Wales delivers on the ambitions within the Environment (Wales) Act and the Well-being of Future Generations Act. Species are the key components or building blocks of ecosystems, and are therefore essential to achieving the objective of an ecosystem approach.


Species Champion Launch 15th June © Nigel Pugh

A review of the scarce and threatened spiders (Araneae) of Great Britain

The British Arachnological Society have released a report on the state of GB spiders. The report commissioned by NRW features a 'Red List' of species regarded as being at threat of extinction and shows that 16% of our species are threatened; 18 species are considered Critically Endangered, 30 Endangered and 54 Vulnerable. Three species are thought to have become extinct. An Amber List of species that are not yet considered at risk of extinction but for which the severity of their decline give cause for conservation concern has also been produced. The assessments use data from the National Spider Recording Scheme for England, Scotland and Wales that covers the period up until the end of 2013.

The report draws attention to the conservation needs of spiders and highlights the remarkable efforts of the volunteering recording community.


Text modified from BAS source
Four Spot Orb Weaver (Araneus quadratus) © British Arachnological Society

Pine marten reinforcement planned for Wales

The Vincent Wildlife Trust (VWT) is aiming to restore a healthy population of pine martens, a native Welsh mammal, to Wales. The pine marten (Martes martes) is a cat-sized member of the weasel family that preferentially lives in woodlands. Pine martens were once common and widespread in Wales but the population has undergone a severe decline and has fallen so low that it is now very unlikely to recover without intervention. The VWT is planning to reinforce the population by translocating pine martens from a healthy population in Scotland. This will provide a boost to numbers and increase genetic diversity. The Trust has carried out a thorough feasibility study, part of which involved identifying suitable potential release sites. An area of mid Wales has been selected as a release site, as it has extensive woodland habitat, low density of road networks and minimal conflict with human interests such as game shooting. A small number of pine martens will be taken from sites in Scotland and, once released in Wales, will be intensively radio-tracked. This will allow us to monitor where they establish territories and assess the success of the release. The restoration of a healthy pine marten population will offer great potential for wildlife tourism through people visiting Wales to see pine martens, as occurs in Scotland. It may also benefit woodlands and woodland managers if pine martens reduce grey squirrel populations, as has been the case in Ireland.

To find out more about the project visit the pine marten recovery project website


Image © Vincent Wildlife Trust

Coronation Meadows Project

Summer meadows with splashes of colourful wild flowers among the grass sward may be a distant memory now autumn is here but it's a good time to reflect and to look forward to next years' display. The extent of Welsh Lowland Meadows is a fraction of its former extent and the Coronation Meadows Project is seeking to help reverse the decline and some good progress has been made:

Success Stories in Wales

Record numbers of stunning greater butterfly-orchid have been counted in Gwynedd's Coronation Meadow, Caeau Tan y Bwlch, double the number of last year. Seed from this site has been used to restore three new meadows in the county, with yellow rattle and eyebright being early signs of success.

Pembrokeshire is the latest county where restoration has taken place through the project. Seed from the county Coronation Meadow, Mountain Meadows, has been spread this summer at a nearby farm to begin the process of creating around 3.5 acres of further wild flower–rich meadow in the county.

Work will soon be underway to bring a wild flower meadow back to life in Dyffryn Conwy. After many years advising people on how to restore such meadows, Dr Trevor Dines, Botanical Specialist at Plantlife, will now be getting to work himself, using donor seed from Conwy's Coronation Meadow, Moss Meadow, to restore the wild flower meadow.

You can find out more by visiting the Coronation Meadows website


Image © Plantlife Cymru

Wales Online Amphibian & Reptile Atlas

The purpose of the atlas is to display all amphibian and reptile sightings we have in Wales, and hopefully encourage you to fill in the gaps!

These records are an essential resource for conserving these wonderful creatures. We can build up a picture of species' distribution that will show where they are doing well, and not so well, which can inform conservation decisions and practical conservation on the ground.

Tree Health Survey

Why not take part in a national survey to help scientists monitor and protect our trees and woodland? Trees are the ‘living lungs’ of our environment and support a great variety of wildlife and help combat climate change. No specialist knowledge required

Take part and download a Tree ID guide and field notebook and other resources (Eng and Welsh) here

Species in Wales

Amphibians & Reptiles

Birds

Lichens

Terrestrial Mammals

Bryophytes

Invertebrates

Helping Wildlife

Wildlife Gardening