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.
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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.
How long will the project run?
Phase 1 of Summit to Sea will last for five years (2018 to 2023).
Summit to Sea Year 1
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?
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.
Communities thrive on connections: what they do together cements relationships and ensures that they are greater than the sum of their parts. I hope that this project will enable communities to grow and be strong. Read moreMelanie Newton
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.
Summit To Sea’s project partners are:
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.
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.
Principles are important
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?
How can you get involved?
- 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.
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Summit to Sea stories
I grew up during the miners strike’ as the daughter of a miner. I often wonder how the mining communities might have evolved, and risen to the challenge of necessary change, if they hadn’t been hit so hard with mass pit closures. It is after all so much harder to recover from that, where everything has been taken away, including a whole way of life.
The Summit to Sea project provides an amazing opportunity for mid Wales to lead the way. There are so many avenues that this project can explore which I hope will boost the local economy and provide stability for some of the communities that have experienced the decline of some livelihoods in the area.
Reforms as a result of Brexit open the door of possibility for agricultural, rural and coastal communities. While these changes create a period of serious financial uncertainty they also create opportunity to engage with the debate about what landscape management should look like for the future.
Communities thrive on connections: what they do together cements relationships and ensures that they are greater than the sum of their parts.
I hope that this project will enable communities to grow and be strong, stimulating vital services such as public transport links, strong education provision and economic reasons for people from this unique place to stay in the area, to work and to live.
Forester at the Woodland Trust
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.
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.
Whale and Dolphin Conservation
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.
Development Officer at Pentir Pumlumon
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