There is a climate change and ecological crisis happening in North Wales as the very real effects of climate change are being felt in the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley (CR&DV) Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
In 2019, Wrexham and Denbighshire County Councils declared an emergency as the area’s communities, landscapes and ecological networks struggled to cope under the changes.
To help this important area adapt and thrive despite the climate change challenges it faces, the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley AONB, along with Natural Resources Wales, created a new plan for a more sustainable future, funded by the Welsh Government. It is the first plan of its kind in Wales, addressing the specific challenges faced by AONB landscapes.
Entitled Landscape and Nature Recovery in a Changing Climate, the plan explores each of the unique landscapes within the AONB and identifies:
1) The key climate change risks of that landscape;
2) The challenges it faces;
3) Potential mitigation and adaptation actions for that landscape;
4) Opportunities to support nature and increase the resilience of its ecosystems.
The plan provides a unique foundation for community, stakeholder, and cross sector action in the region to tackle and adapt to climate change over the next 10 years.
It is available to everyone. Farmers, land managers and decision makers, agri-environment and wood planners, public bodies and communities may all find the mitigation and adaptation actions suggested useful. They are designed to be feasible, appropriate and effective.
The plan looks at six different landscapes – upland moorland, upland wooded, upland open, lowland wooded, lowland open and developed landscapes – offering a detailed insight into each, along with practical ideas to reduce the impact of climate change in that landscape.
Launched in December 2021, the plan has already become a benchmark for other work and future Wales-wide guides into climate change and a catalyst for change across the UK.
Our communities, landscapes, and ecosystems all need to adapt to be able to cope and thrive despite climate change. We hope that this plan can help us all work together to put in place mitigation and adaptation measures that will protect our Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
This plan is available to all, so my advice is to use it as much as you can. It contains detailed information collated by experts about every unique landscape in our AONB and it is a valuable resource for anyone involved in activities to tackle climate change in the region, as well as across the UK.
Land managers and public bodies can use the plan to help shape their land management plans, to identify appropriate mitigation and adaptation actions they can take to manage the impacts of climate change on their land, and to explore the future risks they may have to deal with, encouraging pre-emptive measures to manage these.
Agri-environment and woodland planners can use it to identify opportunities for woodland creation that will maximise climate change mitigation and adaptation potential, habitat restoration and enhancing biodiversity, whilst contributing to the sustainable management of natural resources.
Local communities and other interested parties may use the plan to inform their community projects and plans, to bolster the climate change conversation locally, and to create a solutions-focussed approach to living and prospering in a changing climate.
For other AONBs and local authorities wanting to create similar guides or plans, my advice would be to make the most of the work already done by others to save time and resources. The immediacy of this issue does not afford us years of research when the information is already available to us. Instead, do smaller pieces of work to fill in any gaps in research or information relevant to your specific region as a better use of resource and time. Take our guide as a starting point, adopt what applies to your region and then fill in the gaps with your own research and expertise.
I’d also advise to collaborate wherever you can. Tap into the pools of resource and expertise that are available in this field and partner with like-minded organisations and bodies that can further your project and add value to it.