SHORT COMMUNICATION INCORPORATING AND DELIVERING BIODIVERSITY IN A COUNTRYSIDE AGENDA: THE CCW EXPERIENCE IN WALES Joanna M. Robertson Joanna M. Robertson (e-mail: j.robertson@ ccw.gov.uk), Biodiversity ActionCoordinator, Countryside Councilfor Wales,Maes y Ffynnon, Penrhosgarnedd, Bangor, Gwynedd, Wales LL57 2DW. This short communication draws on the experience in Wales of protecting biodiversity within a broad countryside agenda and discusses ways of meeting the challenges that the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) presents. It is intended to stimulate debate about how to ensure that the Convention really does its job. The British government signed the Con vention on 12 June 1992. The presence of non-governmental organisations characterised the United Nations Earth Summit in Rio, and they have played a large role in taking the biodiversity agenda forward in theUnited Kingdom since then. We now have a UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UKBAP) (Department of the Environment 1994), which has the endorsement and strong support of government. It contains broad objectives (for which responsibilities are assigned) is targeted and has built-in accountability. One novel aspect is the identification of priority habitats (45) and species (391) and the preparation of action plans for their conservation; a consistent approach to these plans is taken, establishing status, threats, what is being and needs to be done and by whom. The UKBAP also calls for the production of local biodiversity action plans, for improvement in information sharing and public involvement. This is a challenging agenda, but there are gaps between what the Convention requires and what UKBAP can achieve. A report to the British government in 2001 made it clear that a strategy was still needed to implement the full Convention (UK Bio diversity Group 2001). The preparation of dozens of habitat and species action plans and the holding of frequent meetings show that the biodiversity protection process, representing a new, inclusive way of working, iswell underway. Against a background of continued wildlife losses, we also need to demonstrate that it is delivering positive gains for wildlife. Our experience in Wales has demonstrated the importance of linking bio diversity with the broader economiic and social issues of' sustainable development, of which it is a key measure. This helps to bring in people across the spe(trum-the link between people and nature needs to be re-established. We need to work very hard to interpret the UKBAP for everyday lives. This is beginning to be done, for example by selecting farmland birds as ameasure of 'quality of life'. However, biodiversity inWales is still a fairly penrpheral issue, with GDP, jobs and the farming industry higher up the political agenda. The voluntary sector is weak, and many local authorities are ecologically inexperienced. The National Assembly for Wales's Sustainable Development Scheme, Learning to live differently (National Assembly for Wales 2000), gives new hope. An important element of the picture inWales is devolution. Wales now has its own Assembly, and it is logical that responsibility for biodiversity should be devolved. The Assembly has established a Wales Biodiversity Group. The Countryside Council for Wales (CCW), as the Assembly's countryside agency, has been expected to make most of the running to implement the UKBAP. The hope is that biodiversity and sustainable development will introduce a new way of thinking about nature and natural resources across all sectors. The opportunities are there. CCW is pressing forward with action to deliver some of the UKBAP objectives and targets. It is combining with other agencies to produce regular 'state of the environment' reports. CCW also helps to manage the first all-Wales, whole-farm agri-environment scheme, called Tir Gofal. A CCW director has been appointed to the National Biodiver sity Network Trust to tackle the data problem-everyone holds bits of information, but no one can access the full picture. CCW has taken over the Secretariat of the Wales Biodiversity Group. We are also supporting the preparation of local biodiversity action plans, which aim to translate national targets into reality at local level and to raise local awareness and resources for action. These plans offer the opportunity to BIOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENT: PROCEEDINGS OF THE ROYAL IRISHACADEMY, VOL. 102B, No. 3, 193-194 (2002). C ROYAL IRISHACADEMY 193 BIOLOGY...

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