By Sue Evans, GWCT Cymru Director
With just over a year as GWCT Cymru Director, I have continued to watch our team grow. Matthew Goodall joined us as an advisor ahead of the Royal Welsh Show and Amanda Perkins is working closely with the team through her Curlew Recovery project.
Here's what we've been up to...
NRW review of shooting on publicly owned land
We responded to NRW’s consultation which followed the evidence review where we gained recognition with our submission:
“Of all the submissions, the work of the GWCT is, in our opinion, the most sophisticated, and based on extensive empirical work and peer-reviewed research papers. Their work also underpins the Code of Good Shooting Practice which is universally supported by the shooting community. This portfolio of work should be granted greater significance.”
Read the full response here
We profiled our views at the Senedd in June which gave us an opportunity to engage with AMs to discuss our vision. We had various talks highlighting the challenges of our uplands, rivers and seas: Here’s what was said.
New appointment - Matthew Goodall joins GWCT Cymru as Adviser
With a wealth of countryside management skills, Matt has managed landscape-scale conservation projects and has worked with a variety of conservation organisations to help boost biodiversity.
Having spent the past five years delivering game management courses at Reaseheath College in Cheshire, Matt is looking forward to being back in the field and delivering landscape-scale improvements across the Welsh countryside.
“What I really like about the GWCT is the emphasis of putting farmers, landowners and managers at the core of projects. With the great work already in action through Farmer Clusters the GWCT has proven you can increase biodiversity whilst maintaining a profitable business. This is something I believe is key to the conservation and enhancement of our landscape and wildlife in Wales”.
Matt is a practiced ecologist, game management and wildlife enthusiast. Having worked with different groups, including in the voluntary sector, he has created and implemented management plans, which have boosted game and wildlife numbers by creating and restoring the condition of their habitats.
Matt will be delivering a variety of countryside courses, building knowledge and engaging with people from rural communities to Assembly Members to demonstrate the great work that is going on.
“We need to show the fantastic work of the GWCT and its members to the wider public as well as Welsh Ministers if we are to address some of the more urgent issues in the Welsh Countryside”.
Matt will be working on a number of projects from the uplands to the rivers and seas, leading shoot walks, conducting biodiversity assessments and raising the profile of GWCT.
- A petition to ban the use of Larsen Traps (Multi Corvid Traps)
We have been invited to provide a view to The Petitions Committee of the National Assembly for Wales this July.
- Review of the gamebird code of practice
There is a potential review on the horizon as the matter has been raised again in the Senedd with Lesley Griffiths, Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs. We are working closely with other organisations in suggesting to the Minister that we should lead a working group to look into this subject matter.
We will be responding to the high level consultation document on post Brexit Land Management which will begin in July. It will be a long consultation period finishing at the end of October and will cover the case for change. There will be a two pronged approach proposed to deliver everything designed in parallel but through different schemes:
- Public goods which will be offered funds through income streams
- Economic resilience which will be offered funds through capital schemes investment in business structure
We are also working on ways to undertake pilot projects developing better biodiversity on pasture-based systems. The huge challenge of diffuse pollution particularly from slurry is overwhelming our fishing members in parts of the country. We are therefore currently engaging with Gelli-Aur who have developed a slurry dewatering system which leaves the water clean enough to give back to the cows to drink.
Sustainable Management Scheme
We’re involved in many other projects in Wales. This includes heather restoration work through collaborative action on Moorland and we are pursuing the farmer clusters concept. We are keen to find other groups of farmers who are interested in working collaboratively in producing improved biodiversity with us; our sporting members and others.
We are hosting the curlew recovery project on the Welsh borders where we have been working with the project for several years giving advice and training on predator control. The project is probably the most successful in the UK in terms of curlew recovery producing between 9 and 11 curlew chicks in 2017. It follows GWCT principles: working with the farmers on the ground (bottom-up), and undertaking predator control (adopting wildlife management principles). We helped Mary Colwell host her Curlew workshop in January this year which has resulted in a Welsh working group being set up to take forward the plight of our remaining 400 pairs of curlew in Wales.
We have also made applications for other funds and will hear the outcomes of those before the end of the year.
GWCT Cymru committees
There are now four committees in Wales increased from two last year. Another two are in the process of being formed following discussions with our members who are keen to get involved in policy, membership recruitment as well as fundraising and other matters relating to GWCT in Wales. Please get in touch if you are interested.
All Wales Group
We met in April with the chair and vice chair of each committee; Nick Williams as Wales’ chairman to discuss all matters relating to GWCT in Wales.
Events: There are a number of shoot walks, clay and gun dog days already taking place through which, we will raise awareness and membership actively recruiting with new offers made for members who sign up new members and an advisory visit to syndicates who join as a group. Please again do get in touch if you are interested.
Royal Welsh afternoon tea invitation
The number of events in your area are increasing we would like to invite members and potential members for tea at the Royal Welsh Show on Tuesday 24 July in the CLA Pavilion. Please do let me know if you would like to come as it will be limited on numbers. You can email me on firstname.lastname@example.org.
I hope to have the chance to meet with you in the coming months and thank you for your continued support.