O’r Mynydd i’r Môr / Summit to Sea

Imagine people and nature thriving, from summit to sea

What is Summit to Sea?

How does the future of mid-Wales look to you? Imagine a place richer in wildlife and wonder. Where rural communities go from strength to strength as the natural world recovers. Where people feel ever more connected to the land, the sea and their communities. Summit to Sea (O’r Mynydd i’r Môr in Welsh) is a chance to show that there can be a different future for the land and sea, that works for both people and nature. It’s an initiative that aims to restore flourishing ecosystems and a resilient local economy, on a scale never before seen in Britain.


Summit to Sea will involve:

  • restoring natural processes that provide the ecological functions on which we all depend
  • bringing communities together to create a shared vision for the future
  • supporting the local economy to diversify and establish new nature-based enterprises.

Where is Summit to Sea?

The project will bring together one continuous, nature-rich area, stretching from the Pumlumon massif – the highest area in mid-Wales – down through wooded valleys to the Dyfi Estuary and out into Cardigan Bay. Within five years it will comprise at least 10,000 hectares of land and 28,400 hectares of sea.
We can combine our efforts in the Cambrian Mountains and Dyfi Valley and hopefully make them add up to much more than the sum of their parts. Read more Hannah Scrase

Project coordinator

How long will the project run?

Summit to Sea is a long-term project with objectives to restore flourishing ecosystems and a resilient local economy over at least the next 20 years and many decades beyond. 

Phase 1 of Summit to Sea will last for five years (2018 to 2023).

Summit to Sea Year 1

What happens in this first year will be shaped and decided with the local community. So it’s hard to give much specific detail. This is a project that must be developed with people on the ground locally – with the support of the partner organisations.

The focus for the first 12 months is creating a project team and ensuring that everyone in the local community who wants to be involved can be.

The other priority in the first year is to understand what the viable business models are to develop sustainable incomes for local people and businesses.

Work will also begin to consult with the local community and to start identifying the best places for ecological restoration of natural processes – from summit to sea. And we will also get started on some ecological restoration work on land owned by project partners.

Where is the funding coming from?

A successful bid to the Endangered Landscapes Programme means that £3.4 million of funding is secured for Summit to Sea over five years.

This is new money, from outside Wales. It will support a significant, sustained effort to create new opportunities in the project area, and infrastructure to deliver change into the future. It will also help us to bring in additional investment and develop other economic opportunities to sustain the work over the longer term.

I think what’s really important with the Summit to Sea project is this sense of ownership. I think that has to be valued equally as much as the environment. I think one supports the other. Read more Huw Denman


Who is involved?

The people who have lived and worked on the land and sea in mid-Wales are the people who know it best. Local people – stewards of the land and sea, and the wider community – will play an integral part in shaping and co-designing the project.

Summit to Sea will bring local expertise together with support and knowledge from further afield to create solutions that work for mid-Wales.

A vision of this scale requires a coordinated effort between landowners, communities, farmers, fishers, foresters, public bodies, NGOs, businesses and relevant experts.

A locally-led Summit to Sea partnership is being established to co-manage the project with a legal entity that allows for revenue and other benefits to be shared.

Rewilding Britain is leading the formation of the project in collaboration with The Woodland Trust.

They are responsible for delivering Summit To Sea’s objectives alongside the other project partners:

We want to get the right balance, so the people benefit and the area benefits, you know, from potential development. It’s a magic place, let’s preserve it for the future. Read more Wynne Jones

Development Officer, Pentir Pumlumon

Principles are important

There are five guiding principles essential to the success of Summit to Sea.


People and communities are key

The people who have lived and worked on the land and sea in mid-Wales know it best. Bringing local expertise together with support from further afield is the key to creating solutions that work for mid-Wales.


We can learn from natural processes

Summit to Sea is less about chasing targets for a particular species or habitat, and more about seeing what’s possible when natural processes are restored.

We’re looking for more nature, more diversity, more opportunities. We’re ready to be surprised by the outcomes.


Nature can support resilient local economies

The project will seek nature-based opportunities for the local economy to diversify and become more resilient. These will provide more ways for people to shape livelihoods in their own communities.


Nature needs to work at scale

Cors Fochno. Ynys-hir. Glaslyn. Many unique and precious places exist within the project area. By connecting these and other places, nature can begin working as a larger system and taking care of itself again.


Benefits are secured for the long-term

Our actions now can have impacts for generations to come. We want our grandchildren’s grandchildren to be living in a healthy economy within a thriving landscape, feeling connected to their natural and cultural heritage in mid-Wales. To secure these benefits for all we need to work together.

Want to get involved? Questions?

To find out more, join the conversation and share your expertise, email us at: info@summit2sea.wales

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If you want to be kept up to date with future news, events and opportunities connected to Summit to Sea, subscribe to our mailing list.

How can you get involved?

Here are a few ideas on ways you might want to get involved. (Or email us and tell us what you want to be involved with.)

  • Offer your expertise and local knowledge to help the development and running of the project.
  • Work with the Wildlife Trust and others to develop a system of Payment for Ecosystem Services on your land.
  • Join a new farm cluster scheme which supports groups of farmers to apply for funding.
  • Help develop a joint proposal from farmers and conservation groups to Welsh Government for local delivery of ecosystem services.
  • Take part in the project’s Community Voice Method engagement project on future management of the Marine Special Area of Conservation.

Our email address is: info@summit2sea.wales

Summit to Sea stories

Alison Palmer Hargrave

Officer for Pen Llŷn a’r Sarnau SAC

The project will be steered by stakeholders and local communities in the first instance and I think it’s going to be exciting to see how that turns out. For years our work has focussed primarily on the sea in this region, and I think it’s a really good opportunity to start looking at the land and the sea together.

Most people live and work on the land. It’s important to see that what happens on land can affect the marine environment, and start looking at it as a whole.

This project will have a strong focus on local livelihoods and the economy, which I think is essential to get that balanced approach and to ensure that you’ve got resilience and protection for both ecosystem and economy.

For me, that’s the key to make it successful long term: actually looking at all elements – culture, livelihood and Welsh language heritage – you’re looking at the whole thing.

It’s about bringing people together, and I think it will be really interesting and exciting to see how that develops.


Adam Thorogood

Forester at the Woodland Trust

What excites me about Summit to Sea is the way that it unites all these different habitats and places. The rivers and the rocks and the woodlands and the coastline, all together.

But aside from the excitement there are also uncertainties and challenges, such as losses of biodiversity across the landscape and fragmentation of important habitats coupled with an increasingly difficult economic and policy situation which is putting pressure on the viability of making a living from the land. Summit to Sea is a hopeful development and an opportunity for bringing voices together.

Encouraging conversation about land use amongst a more diverse group of people is good because lots of people have got a stake in the survival of these habitats and of local culture and heritage.

It’s important that this place is recognised as ecologically and culturally significant.

The work I do is to help to restore ancient woodland – providing advice and support to landowners. Woodland restoration brings benefits both economically and ecologically.

For example, I work with woodland owners and small-scale contractors who are locally based to bring these neglected woodlands into management. Many ancient woodlands were planted with conifers in the 20th century. These sites need to be carefully managed in order to safe guard and strengthen their biological diversity. Also, the soils within ancient woodland are really important. These woodlands have never been ploughed or disturbed and so the soil retains a seed bank from the pre-plantation woodland along with a greater fungal diversity.

By managing these sites carefully, we can protect the genetic heritage of our local woodland ecosystems and at the same time create work for local contractors.

Huw Denman


I’ve been helping Summit to Sea with community engagement, knocking on doors of farmers, in particular, and landowners, just to give them a bit of forward warning that the project exists. I’ve drunk a lot of tea and eaten a lot of Welsh cakes and been made to feel very welcome.

Farmers and landowners, they’re very concerned about maintaining their presence in the area. Collectively, as communities and families. They see the present time as changing times, with all the threats and opportunities presented by Brexit, and also Common Agricultural Policy reform.

I think what’s really important with the Summit to Sea project is this sense of ownership.

From my point of view, it’s not just to do with the environment, or ecology, or wildlife, it’s very much to do with the human ecology, and community, and culture.

That resonates very much for me in Wales because, as somebody who’s from Wales, I’m a Welsh speaker, all my relatives are Welsh speakers and I’m from a Welsh speaking community.

I think that has to be valued equally as much as the environment. I think one supports the other.

Hannah Scrase

Project coordinator

I hope that Summit to Sea can bring people with different interests together to find common ground about our future.

In time I think it should enable people locally to develop new business or work opportunities and to be able to stay in the area. We’ll all be able to be proud of living in a very rare place where nature is recovering not declining.

I have been listening and talking to a lot of people locally over the last 18 months mostly about land, farming and nature. I have visited some special corners of Mid Wales where nature is either holding on or even coming back, some for the first time.

I’ve also helped bring together a group of eleven organisations who work on forestry, conservation and rural development. We’ve been exploring how we can combine our efforts in the Cambrian Mountains and Dyfi Valley and hopefully make them add up to much more than the sum of their parts.

Most of my working life has been about reducing or limiting damage to the environment and trying to protect what is left, which is often a losing battle.

It is great to be involved in creating something that is so positive instead. And to be doing it so close to home is even better.

David Anning

Ynys-hir, RSPB

Summit to Sea could be a unique selling point for the Dyfi. So, hopefully, we’ll see more tourism coming in and contributing more to the rural economy.  

It’s so important to make sure that local people are the key beneficiaries for this. 

Things which bring more money into the area are really necessary. There is still a problem with young people moving out of the area because of a lack of opportunities.  

It would be good to have the young people seeing the Dyfi Valley as an exciting place where they can earn a living – and a good living. That way, things like the local culture, the Welsh language, will also be safeguarded as well.

Mick Green

Whale and Dolphin Conservation

I’ve spent many glorious (as well as wet and cold) days out in the bay on survey work. I have been out with hardened scientists who still let out ‘oos’ and ‘arghs’ when dolphins breach close to us. 


It’s the sheer scale and ambition of the  O’r Mynydd i’r Môr / Summit to Sea project that excites me. There’s a long historic connection with the sea around Cardigan Bay, from old legends, through shipbuilding locally to current wildlife tourism. If we can connect projects on land, show how they influence the sea such as through better water quality and marine environment with thriving wildlife, we can stop seeing the sea as ‘separate’ and integrate it into a sustainable future for wildlife and people.  

Although historically there was a larger fishing industry in this area, it’s now much smaller and mainly small family boats. By directly involving fishers in co-management of the area we can all work together to improve the environmental quality of at least part of Cardigan Bay, improving sustainable fishing opportunities, increasing the wildlife and tourism opportunities. This in turn could help develop a local market. Too much fisheries policy has been imposed from a distance with little understanding of the local environmental and economic conditions. A locally managed sea would be better for all.

Wynne Jones

Development Officer at Pentir Pumlumon

We hope Summit to Sea could help us fund a visitor centre at Maesnant, on the slopes of Pumlumon. It’s a unique setting and fantastic location. So it could open up all kinds of opportunities for activities and people to experience coming into a wild area. I think this is one of the few areas of wilderness left in Wales.   At Maesnant there could be opportunities for work – mountain leadership, walking, guided walks. Mountain biking is a popular sport. We’ve had interest here from horse riders who want to use this as a stop-off for a night on a trek.   Events are another thing – triathlons or marathons, all kinds of things of that nature. There’s an opportunity for people to enjoy activities on the water as well. It’s an opportunity to create a designation really – there’s a huge potential there to create far more awareness of the world and how we should care for it.   We want to get the right balance, so the people benefit and the area benefits, you know, from potential development.   It’s a magic place, let’s preserve it for the future.

Why now?

Nature is in decline

As the most recently published State of Nature report highlights, 56% of surveyed UK species are in decline.

In Wales, one in 14 species are at risk of disappearing altogether.

While the average forest cover in the rest of Europe is 37%, Wales has just 14%.

The global 2020 target to reduce biodiversity loss is likely to be missed by a wide margin.

The rural economy needs new answers

Many areas of mid-Wales are experiencing severe economic challenges.

Incomes are low, dependency on agricultural subsidies is high and there’s not enough employment to keep young people in the area.

Farming communities in the uplands face a particularly uncertain future.

Our seas need to recover

Local low-impact fishing has shaped the heritage of Cardigan Bay and its communities in profound ways.

In recent times, pollution and the impacts of large-scale commercial fishing and other industries have damaged our marine environment.

We need to change the way we use our seas to provide better opportunities for local people and allow our marine wildlife to recover.

Brexit brings both risks and opportunities

When Britain leaves the EU, owners and stewards of the lands and seas of Wales have a choice.

Wait to see what happens, and risk further declines in income and employment if subsidies disappear before alternatives have come along.

Or seek partnership in more economically and environmentally sustainable forms of livelihood.

Summit to Sea offers hope

We now have a chance to reverse the losses and discover new ways to live with the rest of nature and each other.

We stand before an opportunity to rediscover our natural heritage and create lasting, nature-based livelihoods within rural economies.

It’s time to renew the places and communities that sustain us, from summit to sea.

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