What is Summit to Sea?
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?
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.
Who is involved?
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.
They are responsible for delivering Summit To Sea’s objectives alongside the other project partners:
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.
Our email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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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