SoNaRR tells us that the current approach to managing natural resources in Wales is not sustainable in the long-term – our key natural resources are being depleted faster than they can be replenished. Biodiversity is declining and no ecosystems in Wales can be said to have all the attributes of resilience. In recent years, water quality has improved – but there is a long way to go before all freshwater bodies in Wales have good ecological status. And although air quality has improved, greenhouse gas emissions have fallen and renewable energy generation has increased, air pollution continues to be a significant health issue1.
Wales’ ecological footprint has been calculated at five times the actual area of the country. This means that five times the land area of Wales is needed to provide the raw materials, energy and food to supply Wales currently and to absorb the pollution and waste created1.
People do show concern about the natural environment: 67% people in Wales are concerned about climate change, with most attributing it to human activity1, and 43% of people are concerned about future changes to biodiversity2. Also, 3% of people have volunteered to help protect the environment1. But there is more to do.
Managed sustainably, people and businesses would derive even more benefits from natural resources than they do already– food, jobs, recreation, raw materials, energy, clean air and water. This is so long as everyone in Wales grasps the opportunities and understands the need to do some things differently in future – to live and work more sustainably.
We in NRW will champion the natural environment and help people make the most of the benefits it offers, as well as valuing it for its own sake – now and for future generations.
NRW will be recognised as the champion for the natural environment in Wales and as a global leader in its field. We will have a strong voice, independent opinions and our views will be respected in Wales and around the world. We will bring people together around shared priorities and channel funding where it can achieve the best results based on the best evidence available. We are and will be an evidence-based organisation, undertaking operations, giving advice and making decisions based on best available evidence. Our evidence will be shared with others, and they will share what they have, providing as complete a picture for Wales as possible.
We will lead by doing and practise what we preach, showing how the sustainable management of natural resources works on the land and water we manage. At the same time, we will try out new ways of doing things, learning from others as we go – locally, nationally and internationally – and encourage others to do the same.
We will encourage changes in behaviour and the ways everyone does things in Wales – and derive the benefits – through increasing understanding of the importance of the natural environment in people’s day-to-day lives. Full life-cycle costs for projects will be considered – for raw materials, running and recycling or disposal – including the environmental costs. We will hold to account those causing environmental damage, where encouragement has failed and enforcement is necessary. We will take the lead and continue to minimise our own environmental impact, as a carbon-positive organisation.
We want the sustainable management of natural resources to be fundamental to all decision making in the public, private and voluntary sectors. We would also like to see the avoidance of damage to the natural environment and maximising social, cultural, economic and environmental benefits of decisions becomes the norm.
Lead by example
Working with our partners