CMG is pleased to be able pass on to readers of this blog an article written by the Initiative for Nature Conservation Cymru:
The Initiative for Nature Conservation Cymru (INCC) is a relatively young charitable organisation, active throughout Wales, but based locally, here in Carmarthenshire. Founded in 2018, we are a charitable incorporated organisation (CIO), created for the benefit of both the wildlife and people of Wales.
INCC has a stated vision of ‘a Wales with more wildlife in more places, created by a society that intrinsically values the natural world’. We aim to achieve this through a combination of research and education, to enable us to speak out and challenge environmental decision makers through campaigns and community motivation. We believe that few communities in Wales today fully realise the very desperate situation wildlife is now in, or the factors that continue to cause the losses. Without knowledge of the situation, there can be no drive to put things right at either the public or political level.
Some of you may be thinking that wildlife conservation is a fairly crowded market when it comes to charities – yet there’s no getting away from the fact that in spite of so much good work by so many, wildlife is still in decline. The creation of INCC was felt to be necessary in order to address what is currently missing from the conservation status quo. Perhaps one of our most unique and critically important positions is that we do not accept any direct funding from Welsh Government or its agencies, really empowering our independent call to action and ability to challenge the way decisions are currently made.
We are small, but hopefully mighty! At the moment we have three part time members of staff, and five very supportive trustees, plus our very dedicated volunteers. Just three years into our operation, we are already active in a number of ways, seeking to achieve our aims through:
- Targeted species and habitat conservation projects
- Research, surveys and monitoring
- Practical habitat management and landowner advice
- Community engagement and education
- Advocacy and campaigns
Practical action for conservation and engagement is a core part of what we do. For example, here in Carmarthenshire, INCC has a landscape-scale conservation project active in the Amman Valley.
The project is designed to deeply involve the local community in nature conservation, so that more can be delivered for local wildlife. Despite its natural beauty, the Amman Valley remains relatively unrecognised for its importance for biodiversity in Wales, something INCC also hopes to change. The project targets a number of flagship species in the area – using these species to engage residents with wider habitat and environmental priorities. For example, the project has built and installed nest boxes with volunteers from the local community. In total, 145 nest boxes have been created for woodland birds, 115 of which have been positioned in suitable woodland habitat in the valley specifically to attract Pied Flycatcher, our first flagship species. Working with local volunteers, landowners and researchers from Cardiff University, the project not only hopes to support Pied Flycatcher in the landscape but to also develop a long-term monitoring project so that more can be achieved for the species on a national scale.
To encourage the involvement of the local community further, a series of guided walks has been organised so that people can see the boxes in situ and hopefully catch a glimpse of their new occupants. The project has since expanded to encourage wider recording, for example through the loan of moth traps, and undertaken specific survey and conservation projects for kestrels, cuckoos and marsh fritillaries. The project has been very successful at engaging the local community and supporting them to explore their local landscape and take action themselves for wildlife- at a scale that feels familiar and meaningful to them.
As well as direct conservation and engagement like this, another big part of INCC’s remit is to communicate the wider needs of wildlife across Wales – the big threats to our wildlife, the action needed, and promoting best practice. To do this effectively we needed to reach a wider audience, with messages that are high impact, but which also address the complexities inherent to much decision-making in conservation.
In 2021, our communication work took a big step forward with the re-launch of the magazine Natur Cymru under INCC’s custodianship. Natur Cymru had been an independent magazine about wildlife and conservation in Wales that had been run by a not-for-profit company from 2001-2017. Very sadly it had ceased publication in 2017, when the government subsidy that had previously supported it was withdrawn by Natural Resources Wales. The magazine was much loved by its readers and it had fulfilled a very important role in Wales as a means to communicate up to date and in-depth information about our wildlife and countryside.
For INCC, the opportunity to re-launch the magazine was ideal; it provided an existing and understood format for the kind of content we wanted to work with others to produce and share, and we had an opportunity to re-launch the magazine on a sustainable financial model that is entirely supported by subscribers and not dependent on government funding.
This was not an easy proposition, but thanks to the very generous support of the previous production team, past subscribers, and funding from the Waterloo Foundation and the Morgan Parry Foundation to cover start-up costs, we were able to re-launch Natur Cymru in 2021. The magazine is now published twice a year by INCC, in hard copy, with each edition now being a substantial 68 pages.
The magazine includes INCC project updates, information on the work of other organisations and individuals active in conservation in Wales, articles about special places and profiles of species important in Wales, recording and policy updates, information on the latest ecological research in Wales and much, much more. We are also publishing articles on more philosophical subjects such as supporting new ecologists, funding and salaries in conservation, and the role of ecological consultancy in development. In this way, we hope to give voice to some of the changes we want to see.
The magazine costs £30 annually, with supporters receiving two editions each year and in doing so, supporting INCC and ensuring the financial sustainability of both the magazine (independent of subsidy) and the charity itself, allowing us to keep standing up for wildlife.
We are incredibly grateful to all our subscribers and donors; there is no doubt that a life without government grants is financially challenging, and so we are very dependent upon the generosity of those who support us.
If you are interested in getting involved, here are a few of the current ways you can support us:
- INCC is currently working with the Dyffryn Twyi project, if you know of interesting grasslands or meadows in the valley we’d love to hear about them – please get in touch with Rob.
- Let us know about damage to meadows or SSSIs anywhere in Wales – please get in touch with Rob.
- Post-covid we will be back to organising a variety of walks and events in the Amman Valley – come and join us on one of those – please get in touch with Rob.
- Suggest/write articles or provide photographs for Natur Cymru – please get in touch with Lizzie.
- Subscribing to Natur Cymru –– please get in touch with Lizzie.
If you would like to find out more about any other aspects of INCC, our current projects, or to see more about or subscribe to Natur Cymru, you can find all that information on our website at www.natureconservation.wales
Lizzie Wilberforce (Natur Cymru editor) firstname.lastname@example.org
Rob Parry (INCC CEO) email@example.com