Seventy delegates came together in October for our Small Nation: Big Landscapes conference at Plas y Brenin. They came from every National Park in England and Wales, AONBs like the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley and the yet-to-be-designated Cambrian Mountains.
For all of us here at Cymdeithas Eryri – staff, trustees, members and volunteers – it was an honour to bring together such experience, knowledge and enthusiasm. There was an enormous energy about the conference and we saw inspiring examples of what partnerships can deliver in designated landscapes. Our own Caru Eryri volunteer programme featured, but it was fascinating to hear perspectives coming from either side of the border, to think about how things are evolving in Wales, and to consider what this means for the ways we work together – as charities and authorities, and within and between nations.
Our discussions underlined the need for stable governments which are committed to designated landscapes, nature recovery and wider environmental protection. We welcomed the prospect of a new National Park for Northeast Wales, and considered the challenges of building a more sustainable model of tourism – one which works for communities as well as visitors.
From the Climate Change Minister Julie James we heard clear and serious words on how Welsh Government is addressing these challenges. There was much useful discussion on where and how we as the third sector can contribute to this work. Perhaps most importantly, we recognised that leadership is something for us all to build. Working together, identifying our shared priorities and applying will and resources, these big landscapes will deliver much for current and future generations.
Delegates left the conference and went back to their respective designated landscapes and organisations fired up with positive thinking, ready to do our bit – to make our landscape movement bigger, more effective and more joined-up.