Area Statements and opportunity catchments

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These pages are being continuously updated, enabling stakeholders to get a better understanding of how Area Statements applies to their particular areas of work.

To achieve sustainable water management, will require water stakeholders to work together in collaboration at the appropriate scale. Please contact us if you are keen to explore opportunities for integrated catchment management and work with Natural Resources Wales and others to tackle the challenges within the water environment. 

Please e-mail the Integrated Water Planning Team at: WFDWales@cyfoethnaturiolcymru.gov.uk 

View of the Conwy

As a part of the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act and the Environment (Wales) Act, Natural Resources Wales (NRW) are taking a placed-based approach to integrated catchment management.  

We will be focusing our activities on embedding the principles of Sustainable Management of Natural Resources (SMNR) to deliver catchment outcomes. This means benefits for water quality, water quantity and water dependant habitats and species aligned with people’s well-being benefits over the long-term. 

Collaborative work


We will focus on supporting the delivery of multiple benefits through partnership working. Our objectives will be aimed at improving the management of water body catchments and increasing the well-being to people. This will happen in the areas that represent the strongest opportunities for integrated catchment management.  

The work should be focused on the most appropriate scale to maximise benefits to the environment and people. For the third cycle of River Basin Planning (2021-2027), NRW has identified Opportunity Catchments. These will be integrated as a priority work area for both NRW and external partners across the public and private sector. This will help the environment and natural water resources to become more resilient to climate change and other pressures.

Welsh Opportunity Catchment areas


We will publish a map of ten Opportunity Catchments areas within the draft third cycle River Basin Management Plan (RBMP) consultation this year. Marine and estuarine waterbodies will be included where appropriate within the Opportunity Catchments, which is a departure from solely freshwater waterbodies targeted in ‘Cycle 2’.

The ten Opportunity Catchments selected represented the best suite of opportunities for addressing Water Framework Directive (WFD) objectives and the wider SMNR and well-being outcomes. Opportunity Catchments will focus staff resource across NRWs functions to support partners to deliver integrated catchment management solutions. NRW will continue to work with partners in other catchments that are not selected as an Opportunity Catchment including addressing physical modifications, fisheries restoration plans and metal mine remediation.  

Welsh Opportunity Catchment areas:

  • Dee
  • Clwyd
  • Conwy
  • Anglesey
  • Teifi
  • Taff/Ely
  • Cleddau/Milford Haven
  • Swansea Bay
  • Central Monmouthshire
  • Ithon

Discovering Area Statement themes


A full description of the opportunities for catchment management emerging from each place can be found in the Area Statement pages:

Collaborating with stakeholders


Our water stakeholders have engaged with us at our local and national Area Statement workshops and events, through the Wales Water Management Forum and in responses to the Challenges & Choices Consultation last year to highlight priorities, risks and opportunities within the water environment. NRW will continue to work with a broad range of stakeholders across Wales to focus on a more collaborative and integrated approach to catchment management, looking at the root causes of problems and working together to find long-term solutions.

Please look at the information provided in each Area Statement and let us know if you are interested in finding out more and want to be part of working together to tackle the challenges within the Opportunity Catchment areas.  

Learn how we continue to work with national groups:

Wales Water Management Forum

NRW are working with partners to pursue sustainable management of the water environment:

Upper Conwy Catchment Project

Tawe Catchment Trial

River Basin Management Plans (RBMPs)


Are strategic plans which give everyone concerned with the River Basin Districts in Wales a measure of certainty about the future of water management in that district. Further information can be found below:

River Basin Management Plans 2015-2021

The Water Framework Directive


Provides a legal framework for the protection of inland surface waters, estuaries, coastal waters and groundwater. To find out about the current status of water bodies in Wales follow the link below:

Water Watch Wales

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