"Valuing our freshwaters" was launched at the Senedd on the 27th February 2013. The event was organised by Wales Environment Link (WEL) and sponsored by Dafydd Ellis-Thomas AM who is Chair of the Welsh Government Environment and Sustainability Committee. The launch was well attended by Environment Committee members, civil servants, interested stakeholders and many Welsh environmental Non-Government Organisations who are members of WEL.
Afonydd Cymru and the Salmon and Trout Association took a lead role in preparing the document within Wales Environment Link (WEL) who co-ordinated its production and publication. A total of 20 member organisations within WEL supported the document. It was produced because of the concern about the quality of freshwaters in Wales. 66% of Wales’ rivers, lakes and wetlands are not achieving "Good Ecological Status" as required under the European Union’s Water Framework Directive and only 24% of freshwater Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) were in favourable status in 2006. "Valuing our Freshwaters" identifies 9 headline key issues and also the actions needed to address them by Welsh Government and Natural Resources Wales if we are to achieve the required improvements.
Case studies are presented in the publication to show how voluntary sector organisations in Wales such as Afonydd Cymru can help to achieve these improvements. Afonydd Cymru and member Trusts* have demonstrated how they are able to engage with communities and deliver cost effective environmental improvements to rivers. We can continue with this work but we will need funding to help cover core costs and to engage professionals to coordinate the work of volunteers.
It is hoped that "Valuing our Freshwaters" will influence the Welsh Government in its preparation this year of its Water Strategy and also the future Rural Development Plan which is critical if we are to have the resources to effectively tackle the negative impacts on freshwaters from agriculture and forestry.
*Afonydd Cymru has 6 member River Trusts (RT) – Severn RT, South East Wales RT, Teifi RT, Pembrokeshire RT, Welsh Dee RT and Clwyd and Conwy RT.