Wales is a country with a breath-taking countryside, world class food and drink producers, and more castles per square mile than any other country in the world. The Welsh countryside underpins the tourism sector, with countless businesses providing accommodation, food, drink, and experiences to those who visit. It is a place of recreation, a larder and, just as importantly, a place of work for many. It is without a doubt a place full of pride and, being as loved as it is, a place that should be supported as much as possible. We are calling on the next Welsh Government to do exactly this, ensuring that we continue to champion the countryside. You can do the same by lobbying your candidate to find out how they plan to tackle rural crime.
The last couple of years have brought about a sea of change, with bold ambitions for a green recovery and a commitment to tackle climate change. These important focuses are only possible with the valuable contribution and commitment of our farmers, gamekeepers and riverkeepers.
We have broken down what we think are the most valuable aspects into four key areas, each of which holds important asks to the next Welsh Government from us at the Countryside Alliance to ensure the prosperity of the Welsh countryside, and everyone who lives and works there.
One in three people live in rural Wales and it is important that those communities, where they live and work, have a vibrant and sustainable future. To ensure this, they must have the support of the Welsh Government with policies that do something for the countryside rather than to the countryside. Therefore, the Countryside Alliance believes that all policies in Wales must be rural-proofed so that the needs of rural communities are not overlooked and put at a disadvantage compared to their urban neighbours.
Growing the rural economy
The fabulous blue flag beaches, historical landmarks and buildings, landscapes to explore, along with world class food and accommodation, make Wales the perfect destination for staycations as well as for visitors from across the world. It is therefore, no wonder that Wales is hugely dependant on tourism, especially in rural areas where the natural environment is the star attraction. So, it is imperative that the new Welsh Government supports this important industry, allows it to flourish, and ensures that it protects and enhances the natural assets of the countryside. We propose that this can be achieved through a variety of means, such as implementing a country sports tourism strategy to bolster the tourism trade and to ensure access reform respects the rights of property ownership, remaining sympathetic to the landscape.
Managing our countryside
The Welsh countryside has been managed over many centuries. The aim of wildlife management should be to maintain healthy and balanced populations of wild animals at levels that can be sustained by their local environment, and which are acceptable to farmers and the overall balance of all other wildlife. A lack of management threatens vulnerable populations, biodiversity, habitat conservation and the production of food. This is why we are proposing that the next Welsh Government ensures there is a consistent, evidence-based and principled approach to wildlife management and habitat protection across all species.
Harvesting our countryside
Our farmers and food producers not only produce world class products enjoyed at home and abroad, but they are also responsible for managing and enhancing our beautiful countryside. Leaving the European Union has brought its challenges, but also opportunities and we need a Welsh Government that is not only going to champion our farmers but work with them over the coming years of transition to ensure they can compete on a global scale.
Take action now by completing our e-lobby to ask your candidates if they support our manifesto 'Championng our Countryside'. You can also read our manifesto in Welsh here.
You can access the e-lobby here.
You can read our full manifesto and our key asks to the next Welsh Government in more detail here.