Wales

Wildlife scheme: Farmers' worries cause charity exit

A pine marten Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Pine martens were reintroduced to mid Wales in 2015

The lead partner of a £3.4m project aimed at restoring the countryside to its natural state has pulled out following criticism from the community.

Summit to Sea aims to increase biodiversity and restore ecosystems in 10,000 hectares of mid Wales and almost 30,000 hectares of sea in Cardigan Bay.

But farmers were left angry saying it would be impossible for them to continue living in their communities.

As a result, Rewilding Britain has become the second partner to pull out.

A statement confirmed the decision followed feedback from community members and farmers' unions who were unhappy with the charity's involvement.

"It's an inspiring project about restoring nature, benefitting rural communities and supporting the local economy," said Rewilding Britain chief executive, Rebecca Wrigley.

"To succeed, it has to be community led and community supported as it finds ways to help both people and nature to thrive.

"While Summit to Sea held a series of face-to-face meetings and consultations locally, we should have communicated more widely that the project was to be community led and owned.

"We've learnt some invaluable lessons about how to do this in the most effective way."

Summit to Sea director Melanie Newton said the views of local people were "vital to the partnership".

In September, Machynlleth-based Ecodyfi withdrew its support saying it had "increasingly been disturbed by the change of attitude to the project in the farming-connected community on which we largely depend".

Powys councillor for Glantwymyn, Elwyn Vaughan, who has welcomed both withdrawals, said: "I am hopeful that it marks the start of a successful partnership between the people of mid Wales and Summit to Sea."

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