It was on 11 February, International Day of Women and Girls in Science, that my appointment as CEO of Afonydd Cymru was announced.
A moment of extreme pride, following years of hard work, have bought me here, and what better achievement can I pass to my two children! It is a great privilege to take on the role starting this week. It is an even greater privilege to follow in the footsteps of Stephen Marsh-Smith, a man who worked tirelessly firstly for the Wye and Usk Foundation and latterly for Afonydd Cymru.
In 2020, the State of the Natural Resources Report published by Natural Resources Wales (NRW), reported that 66% of water bodies are failing to achieve Good Ecological Status under the Water Framework Directive and the majority of freshwater Special Areas of Conservation features are in unfavourable condition. 2021 has started with the NRW confirming that 61% of 125 waterbodies in Wales are failing their phosphorus target.
The rivers trusts of Wales work untiringly, even through the COVID pandemic, to deliver projects to improve and enhance our rivers; opening up rivers to migratory species, restoring important habitat, providing soil and land management all across Wales. To move forward, we must continue this good work, grow our capacity, and work with stakeholders all across Wales to make turn this tide round.
We are determined to work with all sectors to make these changes. We must value the environment in which we live and as a society we must monetise that value to support the sustainable protection of natural resources that we strive to deliver in Wales. This will require Welsh Government, Natural Resources Wales, the corporate sector and eNGO’s to work together to achieve this. It will require new legislation, enhanced enforcement and the support of Wales as a whole if we are to succeed. We must balance our environment with economic, cultural and social benefits and we may have some tough decisions ahead.
As CEO for Afonydd Cymru, I am honoured to support the rivers trusts to play their role at this important time to make these changes. We will support by developing new markets for nutrient and carbon offsetting, we will work to enhance biodiversity and continue to improve our riverine habitats. Our work on natural flood management has never been so important as the climate changes around us, with many of our rivers unable to cope with rainfall over the last week. Never has the beauty and importance of our local environment, and the health and well-being of our rivers, been so important as in 2021. It is a challenge, but one we can achieve.
I hope to meet many of you reading this over the next few months, feel free to contact me and we will see how we can work together. If you are able to support Afonydd Cymru in their efforts, please look at how you can help on our website.