Last chance to save nature, Welsh campaigners say


Wales has reached its "last chance to save nature", wildlife groups have warned.

More than 40 organisations have written to the Welsh government saying Wales has become "one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world". One in six species is currently at risk of extinction in Wales, with 73 having already disappeared since the 1970s.

The Senedd is set to pass a new agricultural bill this month, but a large group of charities have argued the "crucial" reforms do not go far enough. The Welsh government called the legislation "transformational".

Black Grouse is one of several threatened bird species found in Wales (Jamie MacArthur).

The group, which includes the WWF, RSPB and Wildlife Trust Wales, said in the letter seen by BBC Wales that none of the country's natural ecosystems is classed as resilient enough to face threats including climate change.

Some farming organisations – including The Landworkers' Alliance and Nature-Friendly Farming Network (NFFN) – also signed the letter and said they were "increasingly concerned" the Agriculture (Wales) Bill would fail to deliver for wildlife. They asked Members of the Senedd (MSs) to make changes before it is passed on 16 May.

The legislation will pave the way for a new funding model for farming, as pre-Brexit era subsidies are replaced by the Welsh government's Sustainable Farming Scheme.

But the charities said the wording was too weak to influence real change and could prove "disastrous". They want the phrase "restore nature" added as a clear objective of the plans to reform agriculture.

"The way we manage land through agriculture is the biggest driver of nature loss in Wales," explained Shea Buckland-Jones, policy manager at WWF Cymru.

"So in turn the agriculture bill, if designed right, provides us with a once in a lifetime opportunity. This is about influencing the system that sits around farmers in Wales – they are the guardians of the land. If we don't get this bill right, we won't be in a position to meet some of those targets that the Welsh government has signed up to at COP15."