Updated: Apr 14
Catchment Level Environment Action Network
Our rivers and streams first carved the landscape, then shaped the location and success of human settlements. They were the original power supply and transport network; providing food, carrying goods to trade, irrigating crops and turning the millwheels. For many wild species they are still the primary network to move through habitats, for feeding and reproduction, basic survival activities.
The latest study by Natural Resources Wales published in 2020 found that less than half (46%) of Welsh rivers and lakes were in good ecological health, and they have been declining for many years. The health of our rivers is both an indication of the health of the whole catchment, and a vital resource to restore biodiversity within it. Checking the condition of our waterways is like a doctor taking fluid samples to assess human health; diagnosing problems and developing a treatment plan for recovery.
"Healthy waters are essential for people and nature to survive, and for businesses to thrive.” Richard Benwell, CEO of Wildlife and Countryside Link
In response to the challenge of restoring and enhancing healthy habitats in and along the Afon Nyfer, a network of nature conservation and community organisations has formed. This is being co-ordinated through the Growing Better Connections project and Includes representatives from Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, West Wales Rivers Trust, Pembrokeshire Nature Partnership, Newport Area Environment Group and Community Councillors. The members of the network recognise that more can be achieved by working together towards common aims. Working at a catchment level to restore habitats enables us to maximise the benefits to wildlife and the communities within it. They propose an approach that will be delivered in two phases and provide opportunities for local volunteers to get involved.
Phase 1: Consult with local groups and individuals who have an interest in the river, and survey to establish baseline information about its current state of ecological health. Phase 2: Develop a strategy, and secure funding to support landowners to implement nature based solutions that will aim to improve habitats in the long term. This will include reducing litter and pollution, controlling invasive non-native species, tree planting and habitat management.
To make this happen we need you to help. You can do this by encouraging volunteers from the local area to help with water sampling in the next few months. You can also help by sharing this information through your networks to stimulate the engagement of local landowners. There is potential to shape Phase 2 by feeding back comments and suggestions as to what you would like to see happen and where, or even just writing to confirm your support for the idea. Taking samples is quick and easy and the volunteers will work in pairs, from the same household bubble. They will be provided with testing equipment and on-line training to enable them to take a few samples as part of their daily exercise, on 2 or 3 separate days. They will also be asked to take photos and make observations about the riverbanks, their condition and the plants growing there. This data will be collated and assessed to develop phase 2.
If you would like to find out more, or volunteer to help then please contact Adam Dawson by Friday 12th February 2021 firstname.lastname@example.org 01239 831602
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