LlyG update – government policy important to community woodlands, Nov 2015

Posted on October 29, 2015 by

Llais y Goedwig Director David Williams gives his bi monthly round up of key developments important to community woodlands in one easy read update.

This update draws on Llais y Goedwig’s ongoing work with organisations including Natural Resources Wales, Wales Environment link (WEL),  Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA), and the National Forestry Policy Group within Welsh Government.

You can read all the woodland policy updates posted by LlyG by visiting here.

Any questions or observations are always welcome. The LlyG network – llygmembers@googlegroups.com – is a good way to do this, or contact David at david.williams@llaisygoedwig.org.uk.

Development of ‘Made in Wales’ legislation

As I have noted before, the Welsh Government, having had a positive referendum result on increased law making powers, has been very keen to develop ‘made in Wales’ legislation. This month looks at two in particular.

The Environment Bill

There is a lot of debate and discussion around the Environment Bill at present and Wales Environment Link (WEL) – of which Llais y Goedwig is an associate member – have been working hard to look at biodiversity targets and guiding principles. They have been looking to identify interest areas of AM’s and working with the National Assembly Environment Committee to suggest amendments. It is interesting to see how the lobbying and engagement process works, albeit that Llais y Goedwig is on the margins, with the large environmental organisations – such as RSPB, Wildlife Trusts Wales, National Trust and World Wildlife Fund – who have full time staff available – taking the lead.

Progress on the Environmental Bill will doubtless be the subject of a future update, but this month I want to look at the Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Act.

The Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Act

In many ways this is quite ground breaking, as it takes a holistic approach and is very much meant as an ‘underpin’ to what we do in the future in Wales – placing a number of duties on public bodies.

First to highlight is that the act has the ambitious aim to improve the social, economic, environmental and cultural wellbeing of Wales – looking to make the public bodies covered by the Act think more about the long term, to work better with people and communities and each other , as well as seeking to take a preventative and more joined up approach (hence for example the ‘joining up’ of Forestry Commission Wales, Countryside Council for Wales and Environment Agency in Wales to create Natural Resources Wales).

There are seven wellbeing goals – covering that aim – namely:

  • A globally responsible Wales
  • A resilient Wales
  • A more equal Wales
  • A Wales of vibrant culture and thriving Welsh language
  • A prosperous Wales
  • A healthier Wales
  • A Wales of cohesive communities

Second is to be aware of all those public bodies which the act covers – Welsh Ministers, Local Authorities, Local Health Boards, Public Health Wales, National Park authorities, Fire and Rescue Authorities, NRW, The Arts Council of Wales, the Sports Council of Wales, the National Library and the National Museum of Wales, the town and community councils of Wales.Each of these now has a wellbeing duty – which means that they must carry out sustainable development and to do this they must set and publish wellbeing objectives that are designed to maximise their contribution to achieving each of the seven well being goals (above). For local authorities, this is done through a Local Wellbeing Plan, overseen by Public Service Boards (which replace Local Service Boards) and which now have to have a member from NRW.

Good news for community woodlands?

So, how might the Wellbeing of Future Generations act (now shortened to WFG) be good news for community woodlands?

Probably in two ways –

Firstly, there is a much greater emphasis on ‘multiple benefits’ looking at the added value/unintended consequences of an activity – so for example, an activity on planting trees in a community woodland might firstly be hitting the ‘globally responsible’ goal – reducing carbon footprint by increasing carbon capture, but also has a benefit of being an outdoor activity (healthier Wales), and potentially involving a cross section of people coming together (a Wales of cohesive communities)

Second is the expectation that citizens hold the Government and public bodies to account – and as such they will be (and are) looking for partners who can help them meet those goals and deliver multiple benefits. Community woodland groups fit the bill – so now is the time to be making some of those connections!

 

 

 

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