Janet Dwyer & Chris Short give Evidence at The Environment and Sustainability Committee

Last week Janet Dwyer and Chris Short gave evidence to the Environment and Sustainability Committee of the National Assembly for Wales at an meeting hosted at Aberystwyth University. Joining them in the session were representatives from:

Both Chris and Janet remarked that it was an honour to be invited to give evidence to the Committee. It enabled them to draw upon their own experiences and knowledge that they have developed throughout their careers.

Referring to projects that he is involved with in the Thames catchment area, Chris raised points that ‘integrated local delivery’ – that is, bringing together different sources of expertise amongst stakeholders – enables them all to feel part of the solution, generating a more rounded perspective and ultimately a better solution or outcome.

Janet commented that farming people and many in rural areas have a very strong emotional attachment to their land or place – much to the agreement of the committee chair, Lord Ellis-Thomas! Janet explained it would be wrong to think that because you are not always able to put a financial value on such things, that they are not important, and often this importance can be a driver for change at the local level. In addition, Janet suggested, that gains could be accrued for sustainable land management by ensuring that a range of knowledge is always involved – including local farming knowledge, historic expertise, business considerations as well as technical and scientific expertise. This would ensure that aspects of the landscape (such as heritage, culture or natural environment) are not considered in isolation and opportunities for synergy are not missed.

Janet and Chris also suggested that farmers and local people could become more involved in monitoring and recording environmental change, increasing their understanding and interest in sustainability.

Janet concludes that “the points seemed to strike a chord with Committee members, whose inquiry into sustainable land management in Wales is drawing to a close, later this month.