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15.11.2011 / News - National level

Wales’ Natural Environment Framework – A Living Wales

In Wales, we have a legal duty to Sustainable development and try to consider it in everything we do. A key element of this is protecting our environment.

Until now we have usually looked at parts of the environment separately. Our new Natural Environment Framework, called A Living Wales, will focus on managing our environment as a whole rather than focusing on separate parts. It will also help us to meet future biodiversity targets.
In January 2010, the Minister for Environment, Sustainability and Housing issued a Statement. It stated that Wales’ natural environment faced many challenges, including climate change. She said that our traditional focus on small sites and species protection would need to develop to look at the wider habitat. She announced the development of a sustainable approach, our natural environmental framework, that would address climate change and habitat management together.
We all need to rethink the way we view, protect and manage the Welsh environment. Many people have become disconnected from their surroundings and underestimate the contribution that a healthy environment plays in their everyday lives. So it is not surprising that the environment doesn't feature strongly in many decisions we make about our future or our personal well being. With everyone's help, we want to change this. We want to make the health and quality of our natural environment a focus for everyone and a key part of decision making.
Developing a new way of securing sustainable management of land and water takes a lot of work. That’s why we brought together groups of people to work on different parts of A Living Wales.
There are currently five work streams. They cover:
• Building the evidence base; This work stream covers our future needs for evidence, monitoring and mapping and draw on work already underway. These should inform the development of new tools for identifying sustainable land and water use and setting appropriate priorities.
• Valuing ecosystems; An ecosystem is all the living things, and how they interact, with each other and their environment. This work stream will produce a clearer valuation of our some of our ecosystems and ideas about how this can be built into decision making and future financial calculations
• Refreshing regulatory and management approaches; This work stream will create fresh approaches to the design and implementation of regulatory and management regimes. This will allow those regimes to deal with the health of ecosystems as a whole, reflecting risk, costs and benefits, opportunity and resilience.
• Engagement and Communication; and This work stream will engage stakeholders and key sectors in developing future partnership mechanisms. This will ensure that the Living Wales framework fully reflects differing opportunities and risks and improves the ability of stakeholders to deliver the framework.
• Refreshing institutional arrangements. This work will consider the option of establishing a single environmental body for Wales that will support the delivery of the Framework.

Information on A Living Wales can be found at: http://wales.gov.uk/consultations/environmentandcountryside/eshlivingwalescons/?lang=en