Exploring a shared vision for our land and sea with the Cambrian Mountains Initiative

During 2021 the Cambrian Mountains Initiative and the Summit to Sea project came together to collaborate on a research project with farmers and other natural resource managers.

This research explored:

  • What is the relationship between business and nature currently?
  • What are businesses’ aspirations for the future?
  • Will they benefit nature directly or indirectly if implemented?
  • How can the initiatives support business development that will have positive benefits for nature, community, and the economy?

Interviews and workshops as part of this work were undertaken between June and November 2021. The team appointed to undertake this work included several locally based interviewers, with the research including:

  • Building a list of over 100 businesses working with the natural resources.
  • Individual one to one discussion with 50 of these businesses (aiming for a spread across the area, business type and size).
  • A face to face meeting with 25 farmers and an online meeting with 4 tourism businesses.

This research focussed on businesses that have a relationship with natural resources where that relationship is fundamental to their commercial activity. These were businesses that have a direct relationship with natural resources through using them or harvesting them, for example farming; and businesses that have an indirect relationship but where the natural resources are still core to the business model, for example mountain biking centres.

The research explored how the people managing these businesses see and understand the relationship between their business and nature, how this intersects with the community and landscape the business operates in, and what opportunities and challenges they see for the future of their business and its relationship with nature.

“Farming is an essential element of the Cambrian Mountains economy and our communities.

It is inspiring to see the range of ways Cambrian Mountains farmers want to take forward their businesses – for example, regenerative agriculture, carbon farming, more cattle grazing on the hill to open up dense molinia, better management of boundaries and trees. These things all have the potential to improve the farm business.

Because these things also help the climate and nature recovery all of us will end up benefiting if farmers are able to deliver these ambitions.”

Ieuan Joyce, Chair of the Cambrian Mountains Initiative

This research found that each business could provide many examples of the ways in which they are benefiting nature and that many businesses want to do even more for nature. Many of these businesses plan for a long-term future because they represent people’s livelihoods (often across past and future generations), so they offer a long-term vehicle for delivering benefits for community, the local economy, nature, and climate.

The research demonstrated an appetite amongst these businesses to work collaboratively, with one another, and with Cambrian Mountains Initiative and Summit to Sea, to further develop the ideas that emerged during this work. This would support the common ground that exists between all to nurture local communities, to have productive landscape, to enable nature recovery and to play a positive role in tackling climate change.

These research findings have been developed into a series of project concepts that reflect what was heard through the interviews and workshops. You can read more about these project concepts in the summary and full reports provided below.

What Next

This research has been integral to informing both the Summit to Sea co-design process, which can now be read in the Project Blueprint, and the Cambrian Mountains Initiative forward planning.

Thank you to everyone who gave their time to this research.

Work experience with FWAG & Tir Canol

During April 2023 we had the plesure of hosting Elin Haf Jones as part of her work experience with FWAG. After her fortnight of work experienced Elin shared a bit more about her experience with us:   Tell us a bit about yourself  Hello, I’m Elin. I come from Llanilar...

Inspiration: New project explores planting trees and shrubs to produce fertilisers

A new project in the Dyfi Valley is exploring a way that trees and shrubs could contribute to farming livelihoods by producing organic fertilisers for horticultural and arable crops. The Perennial Green Manures (PGM) project is testing fertilisers made from the leaves...

New Tir Canol Partnership established

With the launch of the Tir Canol project, following the end of the Summit to Sea project, a new partnership now takes on the responsibility of delivering Tir Canol.   This new partnership meets monthly to take the project forward, organisations include RSPB...

Did co-design work?

It’s been really important to the project to reflect and learn from what and how we’ve been designing locally relevant solutions for the biodiversity and climate crisis. It’s been a new way of working for a lot of us and so in early 2022 we commissioned a piece of...


Over the last two years we have been bringing people together to co-design a new project which helps to protect nature and celebrates our land and sea culture.   On a wet and windy May afternoon over 40 people took part in our final workshop of the co-design...

Instagram Live – A project update with TAIR

On the 14th February TAIR, the projects artists in residents, hosted an Instagram Live with Sian Stacey, Project Development Officer, about how the project has been developing, and how the co-design process is going. You can watch the discussion, which is in Welsh and...

Sharing the Blueprint

Over the last 18 months the Summit to Sea project has been inviting a wide range of people to take part in co-designing a future where nature and people thrive in Mid Wales. The project has held workshops, talks, drop-in sessions and one to one meetings with hundreds...

Developing ideas with farmers and food producers

On the 2nd September, the Summit to Sea project held a workshop for farmers and food producers in conjunction with the Cambrian Mountains Initiative, at Moelgolomen farm, Tal y Bont Ceredigion. The intention was to share the developments of the projects and give more...

Exploring what nature means to us

We invited Rachel Dolan, a PhD student based at Bangor University to share her research with us, part of which was undertaken in the project area over the summer of 2019. Over summer 2019 I spent an exciting few weeks exploring the Summit to Sea project area and...

Independent evaluation of early project development

Throughout the summer of 2020, a team of independent evaluators have undertaken a review of the Summit to Sea project. This review was established to undertake an interim review of the project with a focus on the management, governance and partnership working, from...