Introduction to South West Area Statement

© Crown copyright (2019) Wales

About this area

South West Wales is a diverse and varied corner of the country from the rugged uplands to an extensive and beautiful coast. It includes the Preseli Hills and Cleddau valleys of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, rolling farmland of Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire, sweeping estuaries, upland moorlands as well as forests extending to the Cambrian Mountains and the Brecon Beacons National Park. The south coast of Gower (Britain’s first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) in Swansea features rocky cliffs, headlands and sandy bays, whilst the north coast is noted for its broad estuarine saltmarshes with expansive views. The historic industrial valleys of the Tawe, Neath and Dulais are a feature of Neath Port Talbot.

As well as providing us with a wonderful landscape, the natural environment helps to keep us happy, healthy, and supports our economy. We want to find more sustainable ways to manage, protect and enhance these natural assets so that future generations can continue to enjoy the important benefits provided.

This Area Statement provides a reflection of the work we have done in South West Wales. This has been a different way of working - a journey of integration, evidence gathering, local engagement and collaboration. The journey has been the key aspect of this work, working with partners, new and old to create a shared vision for how our natural resources can be managed to deliver more for local communities, the economy and the environment.

This Area Statement identifies the key risks, opportunities and priorities that we all need to address to build the resilience of our ecosystems and support sustainable management of the natural resources. It sets out actions that we and our partners, will take forward to address the issues we have identified.

We have based the structure around four key themes. These have been produced using evidence, local involvement and national engagement, focussing on what is locally relevant from the Natural Resources Policy (NRP) challenges and opportunities. In identifying opportunities and actions we have used the NRP delivery priorities.

Collecting the evidence

We have summarised our evidence about the natural resources in the South West to create a profile of this area. The South West Area Profile provides a summary of robust evidence about the environment, the benefits they provide and the issues they currently face.

It has formed the basis for our conversations in developing the Area Statement.

We have involved as many sectors as possible to capture the widest range of views and expertise. This will reflect the current network in the area, which has really helped us where these networks are strong. We’ve also ensured that representative groups such as farming unions and angling associations have been included, in addition to large industry in the area. But we also acknowledge there are groups whom we have not yet been able to reach.

We recognise that some stakeholders, such as environmental Non-Governmental Organisations (eNGO), have struggled to put the same time into all of the Area Statements due to lack of funding and time dedicated to government policy. Others might not yet see the relevance of our work. But that’s understandable because this product is not an absolute yet – it is a summary of our conversations to date, and an offer for others to continue to work with us help find solutions.


Area Statement engagement – workshop participant drawing on a map

South West Area Statement themes

We have prepared this first Area Statement against a backdrop of Welsh Government’s declaration of a climate and a nature emergency. These two issues are interrelated and are in themselves symptoms of the unsustainable management of natural resources; so much so that many are describing this period we live in as the “Anthropocene” – the period when the dominant influence on both climate and our environment is human activity. The factors involved here are complex and require a whole systems approach. As such both issues feature across all our themes, but nonetheless it was felt that they also deserved to be themes in their own right.

Our themes are: 

Maps of the area

Please note that our maps are not accessible for people using screen readers and other assistive technology. If you need this information in an accessible format, please contact us.

South West Area boundary map

Broad habitats - South West Wales (PDF)

  • Enclosed farmland 
  • Marine
  • Mountains
  • Moorland
  • Heath
  • Open water
  • Wetlands  floodplains
  • Semi-natural grassland
  • Urban
  • Woodlands

Protected areas - South West Wales (PDF):

  • Local Nature Reserves
  • National Nature Reserves
  • Sites of Special Scientific Interest
  • Wetlands of International Importance
  • Special Protection Areas
  • Special Areas of Conservation
  • Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty
  • National Park

National Forest Inventory South West Wales (PDF) 

  • shows areas of forest and Welsh Government Woodland Estate

Water Framework Directive - Rivers Waterbodies and Bathing Water Compliance (most recent available data March 2020) (PDF)

Common Land

Welsh Index of Multiple Deprivation in South West Wales 2019 

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