RSPB Cymru New Project Host

Summit to Sea project announces RSPB Cymru as new project host.

As of June 2020, the Summit to Sea project which sets out to deliver change for nature at scale through delivering ecological, economic and social benefits will be hosted by RSPB Cymru. Partners, local stakeholders and the Summit to Sea funder have agreed that current project work will move into a new planning process allowing local communities to agree the direction of any long-term land and sea scape project.

Neil Lambert, Head of Land, RSPB Cymru said:

“During these incredibly challenging times, we are delighted that the Summit to Sea project is entering a new planning phase which will allow local stakeholders and communities to be fully involved in co-designing a new project. Going forward as a partnership, we’ll be working closely with both land and sea stakeholders. It is essential that any project delivers for local people as well as wildlife. This is a fantastic opportunity to increase connectivity between terrestrial and marine environments at scale for the benefit of people and biodiversity in mid-Wales.”

The role of RSPB Cymru in managing the project replaces the role previously played by Rewilding Britain who stepped back from the project in October 2019 following feedback from local communities. Since October the Summit to Sea partnership has been learning from community feedback and exploring new ways of working to continue to develop best practices to ensure this project has a sustainable and positive impact for nature and people.

Copa (Cymunedau Oll Pumlumon a’r Ardal) has been consulted on the direction of the planning phase and are eager to see a process that takes full account of local stakeholder views. RSPB Cymru will host the project staff and reporting to funders, however its role in decision making will be equal to that of all current and future partners.

Councillor Elwyn Vaughan, Plaid Cymru, and Chair of Copa community group said:

“We are very happy that the project has listened to the concerns expressed over the past 18 months, and with the departure of Rewilding Britain and their vision, along with the complete restructuring of the project, are now looking to create a future built on fresh foundations that reflect the community and landscape of this area. If the open-ness and constructive dialogue of the past few months becomes a pattern that continues to shape the project as it progresses, we really look forward to seeing what develops and its contribution towards ensuring the existence of sustainable communities in the area.”

As with many areas in Wales and beyond, the Cambrian Mountains has a rich cultural and natural heritage but has seen a decline in its wildlife and increased economic uncertainty. Summit to Sea aims to create a future where people and wildlife thrive together, collaborating with a wide range of landowners and resource users, whilst exploring how a local nature friendly economy can support this.

Rory Francis, PR and Campaigning Manager, Woodland Trust said:

“One thing we have all learnt over the past few months is just how important a high-quality local environment is to each and every one of us. It’s always been the aim of the Summit to Sea project to help restore and improve that environment, promoting healthy ecosystems and a resilient local economy. Summit to Sea now has the chance to make a new start in doing this, working with local communities and stakeholders. We’re determined to learn the lessons of the past to ensure we can all make the most of this opportunity in the future.”

RSPB Cymru will now host Summit to Sea for up to two years. The project is funded by the Endangered Landscapes Programme. . In light of the current restrictions due to Covid-19, the timing of the project process will be flexible, lasting up to two years if required, to ensure stakeholders are able to fully contribute as much as they’d wish to the project development. The project will also be following the development of the Sustainable Farming consultation, to ensure that the co-design process of this project is responsive to the decisions made in this Welsh Government consultation.

The project is still currently named Summit to Sea however this is a working title which could be changed should partners and local stakeholders agree that this would be a better way forward.

A successful bid to the Endangered Landscapes Programme in 2018 awarded £3.4 million of funding for Summit to Sea over five years. In June 2020, the project restructured and adjusted the timeline of delivery to focus on an initial co-designing period, which is being funded (£158,000) from the original funding for the next one to two years (dependent on changes to social distancing guidance). The original grant is ring-fenced for the project area subject to a suitable project being agreed with stakeholders.

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