Restoring Natural Processes

Restoring Natural Processes Policy Statement

Cefnogi tirfeddianwyr i weithio gyda natur


The Cambrian Mountains Society supports landowners, from farming estates (including tenant farmers) to smallholders and foresters, in their efforts to restore natural processes, working with nature to enhance biodiversity, habitats and landscape.  In each of these respects:

  • Biodiversity:- helping to increase populations of threatened / vulnerable species such as Sheep’s-bit, Ballerina Waxcap, Welsh Clearwing Moth and Curlew;
  • Habitats:- rewetting upland heath, through conservation management of Ffridd (the boundary zone between enclosed farmland and unenclosed uplands) and coppicing deciduous woodland; and
  • Landscape:- protecting exposed mountain plateaus, slopes draped in Atlantic Oak Woodland and valley bottoms with their complex, often historic, field patterns,

there are opportunities to ensure that farming, wildlife, community and the landscape of the Cambrian Mountains thrive.

This does, however, involve a wide range of stakeholders and complex, interlinked issues with no simple, short-term solutions.

For a discussion of some of the options and factors involved, see Landscape Architecture student SC Chu’s award-winning project taking Pontarfynach as a case study for a farming system involving greater environmental and community engagement: Regenerative Rural Heritage Landscape


With the move towards wider provision of public goods in agriculture post Brexit, the Cambrian Mountains Society believes there is room for all such initiatives.  Whilst the Society considers that larger areas of wild land could be beneficial to nature, farming and landscape it does not support ‘rewilding’ through the introduction of any long lost species without fully engaging with stakeholders including in particular the local communities which have shaped and managed the land for centuries.

cambrian-mountains-forestry -plantations

Large scale conifer forest management

The forestry sector does provide employment across the Cambrian Mountains as well as being a source of revenue.  The Society, however, has always had concerns over a number of the less beneficial effects of large scale coniferisation across these hills including:

  • the visual impact of large blocks of conifer plantation (comprising a very restricted range of tree species) across the landscape;
  • the impacts on biodiversity and soil ecosystems;
  • acidification of water sources; and
  • the range of damage caused by clear felling.

Recently, CMS has contributed to several consultations from NRW over its evolving forest resource management plans.  In these, the Society recognises that NRW’s long-term direction of travel is towards a more ecologically and landscape sensitive form of forest management.  There is, however, much work still to be done including:

  • allowing natural regeneration of native trees and shrubs along the banks of rivers and streams, to improve water conditions for aquatic life;
  • improving the balance between ‘clear fell management’ and ‘low impact silvicultural systems’ through for instance
    • planting mixed broadleaf and conifer forests and
    • selective or continuous cover felling rather than clear felling of large swathes at one time; and
  • the provision of further visitor facilities – such as walking and cycle paths, forest schools and retreats, and interpretative signage within forests.

Privately owned commercial forestry operations within the Cambrian Mountains now need to follow similar, if not better, management plans.

Link: Cambrian Wildwood