3 Improve the resilience and quality of our ecosystems
Where are we now?
SoNaRR has identified that currently no ecosystem in Wales has good resilience and many will not be adaptable enough to deal with climate change and other pressures.
Overall, biodiversity in Wales is declining. The extent of some habitats has declined significantly, and connectivity between habitats has also reduced11. The condition of our ecosystems is mixed depending on the particular habitat: 55% of species and 75% of habitat features on Natura 2000 sites have been found to be in an unfavourable condition11.
Issues that impact on protected wildlife sites include inappropriate grazing and livestock management, inappropriate woodland management, changes in water levels, habitat fragmentation and industrial or other development. Poor air quality is also a factor – over 74% of Welsh habitats are receiving damaging inputs from air pollution8.
Where do we want to be long term?
Wales’ ecosystems will be more resilient, providing more benefits for more people. They will be better able to deal with disturbances – either by resisting them, recovering from them or adapting to them. Net biodiversity loss will have been reversed. Ecosystems will have greater diversity and connectivity, with protected sites buffered and managed as a coherent network as part of the wider natural environment in Wales.
Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) will have been established as part of the way Wales does business, and the benefits that ecosystems provide will be widely understood. Nature-based solutions, maximising the links between ecosystem resilience and well-being, will be understood, valued and implemented.
NRW will have played a key role in delivering the Nature Recovery Action Plan, working with other public bodies and the private and voluntary sectors. Our own land and water management will exemplify ecosystem resilience and connectivity.
What will NRW do up to 2022 to help make this happen?
Lead by example
Ensure we consider biodiversity and ecosystem resilience in all our functions, activities and decision making
Review protected sites to ensure we have the right network for ecosystem resilience in place, as a way of protecting the best areas of biodiversity and a key tool for promoting SMNR
Restore the protected sites we manage towards favourable condition, and take action for priority species and habitats on the land and water we manage
Manage up to 2,900 hectares (about 7,200 acres) of ancient woodland sites by removal of threats, and manage at least 2,000 hectares (about 4,500 acres) PAWS (Plantations on Ancient Woodland Sites) towards restoration on land we manage
Manage woodlands towards open habitat in areas where past planting has been inappropriate, for example on deep peat
Prevent, detect and control invasive non-native species (INNS), pests and diseases on the land and water we manage and on other land in some instances, for example for giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) and Phytophthora ramorum, where species have widespread negative impacts on the economy, environment and people’s health
Working with our partners
Work with PSBs and other public sector bodies using Area Statements as a basis, to help them deliver their biodiversity duties, inspiring others and putting people at the heart of what nature can do for them
Work with the Wales Biodiversity Partnership and other partners to deliver the Nature Recovery Action Plan
Collaborate with land owners and managers to create a strategic integrated approach to managing land and water, focusing on managing protected sites towards favourable condition and valuing them as part of a larger network and essential component of the natural environment
Work with key partners to improve river habitats, collecting evidence and seeking funding to compile, prioritise and implement River Restoration Plans (RRPs), working towards providing the best river habitats for fish and establishing salmon as an iconic species indicative of habitat quality across Wales
Work with the Welsh Government to develop proposals for PES