The environment and natural resource management can play a crucial part in tackling the economic, social and environmental challenges that face Wales. This is according to Peter Matthews, Chairman of the new organisation Natural Resources Wales, which became operational today (Monday 1 April 2013).

It is one of the first public bodies in the world that will consider social, environmental and economic benefits in the way it manages natural resources and improves the environment.

The new body’s aim is to make sure that the natural resources of Wales are sustainably maintained, enhanced and used. In its first year it will:

protect people and their homes as far as possible from environmental incidents like flooding and pollution

  • maintain and improve the quality of the environment, including the promotion of nature conservation, access and recreation
  • provide opportunities for people to learn, use and benefit from Wales’ natural resources
  • support Wales’ economy by using natural resources to support jobs & enterprise
  • help businesses understand and work with environmental, social and economic impacts when they bring forward proposals
  • help make the environment and natural resources more resilient to climate change and other pressures.

Natural Resources Wales will provide a better service for people and businesses as they will now deal with one single body rather than three.

It will be the largest sponsored public body in Wales bringing together the work of the Countryside Council for Wales, Environment Agency Wales and Forestry Commission Wales, as well as some functions of Welsh Government.

Minister for Natural Resources, Alun Davies said:

“The natural environment really is crucial to our economy here in Wales so it is vital that it is managed as effectively and efficiently as possible.

“The Welsh Government has created Natural Resources Wales because we believe one body will result in a more streamlined way of working and will ensure more effective delivery and improved value for money.

The body really does have a crucial role to play and I wish Natural Resources Wales every success in its work to deliver better outcomes for Welsh people, Welsh businesses and our unique Welsh environment.”

Peter Matthews continued: “We face many challenges – for our communities, our economy and our environment. I believe that the natural resources we have in Wales can play their part in tackling them.

“The natural environment is worth £8bn to the Welsh economy and as Natural Resources Wales, we want to build on this.

“We will focus on maintaining the important services that people and businesses rely on, like our flood warning services, maintaining timber supply and protecting valuable sites.

Emyr Roberts, Chief Executive of Natural Resources Wales, added: “We will also begin to re-shape the work we do with a fresh approach and new direction – to make the environment do more for the people, economy and wildlife of Wales.”

An official event to launch Natural Resources Wales will be held this Wednesday (3 April) in Treherbert, attended by Alun Davies, Minister for Natural Resources and Food Minister and Chairman Peter Matthews and Chief Executive Emyr Roberts of Natural Resources Wales.

They will talk about their views and aspirations on the future work of Natural Resources Wales and the benefits the environment and natural resources can bring to people and communities, for the economy and for wildlife.

During the event, those attending will hear testimony from local people who have benefitted from the Woodland and You Project. It encourages local people to use their local woodlands to help them learn new skills, gain confidence and live a healthier lifestyle.

The area has also benefitted from work by all three of the previous bodies to tackle fly-tipping and environmental crime and improve wildlife and conservation.

The creation of Natural Resources Wales was a Welsh Government Programme for Government commitment.