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Welcome: The headings alongside can be opened to view more details.
Thank you for visiting our website. The South East Wales Rivers Trust is one of the seven river trusts in Wales. It is one of more than 20 such trusts that are working for better rivers across Britain with Afonydd Cymru acting as an overarching body for the Welsh River Trusts and the Rivers Trust for those in England. The Trust was formed in 2007 and its members, volunteers and sponsors are committed to protect and improve the aquatic environment and the associated habitat of our rivers.
Our work will bring lasting benefits to the wildlife and communities of South East Wales and will contribute to -
- The restoration of riparian and aquatic habitat.
- Protection and conservation of the plants and animals that live in and around the rivers.
- Support for environmental education.
We work with other bodies to improve the environment, from Fishing Clubs to the Environment Agency and the local and national Biodiversity Groups. If you click on the links page you have a selection of documents that will open newsletters and access to the web sites or newsletters of our partners. New Link added 17th March 2013 showing a you tube video of a salmon spawning above a weir on the Taff Fawr that the trust constructed an easement on
New page added to links with extensive details of a survey carried out on the River Sirhowy to enable the Trust to co ordinate work on this river to comply with the Water Framework Directive
Top: A course on River Fly Monitoring organised by the Trust
The last picture on the right is Dave Roberts the course instructor showing the students the ropes.
The following has been writen by Dr Dylan Bright Director of the West Country Rivers Trust
‘Valuing nature’: morally wrong or the only route to salvation?
Recent debate in the national media has brought into question the wisdom of valuing nature and both sides have put forward compelling arguments. Here at the Trust, where our work involves putting the concept of payment for ecosystem services into practice, we have our own, more practical take on the debate. Trust director, Dr Dylan Bright, explains why he thinks a well-intentioned and progressive principle is getting lost in the midst of sensationalist headlines.
On one side of the debate individuals are terrified by the very idea of valuing nature, something they consider to be a priceless wonder and not something that can have a monetary value put on it as a commodity to sell (or destroy). Individuals on the other side of the debate say that getting governments and societies to recognise the economic value of nature is the only way in which it can be saved because otherwise it is overlooked in our national accounts as worthless. We, as practitioners, agree and disagree in part with both sides and feel that we have a more grounded viewpoint to throw into the mix. Yes, nature is beyond value, but attempts to value the benefits society gets from the natural environment, from the processes that ecosystems carry out and on which all life depends, is not the same as putting a price on nature to sell. Considering the natural environment in terms of the benefits we get from it provides us with a tool that can be used to work out the cost of protecting and restoring the environment and, importantly, to identify those who should be paying these costs.
The reality of the situation here in the UK is that our landscape is largely set-up to provide us with food, as historically this has been the dominant driver of land use. However, we now realise that the relentless drive to produce more and more food from the land has come at a cost to other things that are needed to sustain life (including us). By evaluating the landscape and how we use it, we can identify areas of land where land use or management could be changed in order to protect and restore the ecosystems that are important for other services (such as the provision of clean water, carbon storage and the recycling of nutrients). In our opinion, it is only after this ‘planning process’ is complete that economics should be used to work out the costs and to identify those who might benefit from changes in land management. We are not putting a price on nature; we are working out the cost of its protection within a living working landscape and who should rightly pay for that protection.
After all, we are already paying for environmental protection via general taxation and regulation through public bodies. Although this may have protected small pockets of nature here and there, it has failed to protect the wider environment in any coherent or effective way. This raises the question; who set the level of tax required to deliver environmental protection and on what basis did they evaluate the worth of nature in order to set this level of tax? In Professor Lawton’s review of the current state of England’s wildlife network, he concluded that our current collection of protected sites are too small and too isolated and that this situation was likely to get worse in the future. Surely if the current method isn’t working, it is worth exploring other ways in which society might pay to protect and restore the wider natural environment across the landscape? Admittedly, this sensible approach is not as newsworthy as national headlines about knowing the ‘cost of everything and the value of nothing’ and ‘nature worth 10 billion a year to the UK economy’ but we would ask those who seek to sensationalise this approach not to destroy its fragile shoots while they publicly wrestle to understand it.
Of even greater interest to us, however, are the hidden benefits arising. We will gain a level of social learning from this process; if funds are more directly and locally hypothecated from those who benefit to those who provide, then society in general might learn to value the resources that the natural environment provides us with more than it does currently. Food comes from the supermarket, water from the tap and wildlife from nature reserves are worryingly common attitudes.
The new swathe of environmental jargon that has come into play may be unpalatable to the nature lovers amongst us, but we need to look past the language, the talk of ‘providers’ and ‘users’ and of value and markets, and consider the merits of the real objectives behind valuing nature. Here at the Trust, the concept of ‘Payments for Ecosystem Services’ has enabled us to work with local communities, businesses and other local interest groups to begin realising the value of the natural environment and that investment in its protection and restoration is money well spent. Now surely that’s not such a bad thing?