Monday, 9 May 2016

Natur Cymru's Crowdfunding appeal

Iolo Williams, giving heartfelt support for Natur Cymru

There are big changes here at Natur Cymru HQ. If you're a subscriber you'll be getting a personal letter from us this week explaining what's happening, but here's a summary.

Earlier this year we learned that important financial support was being withdrawn. Since then we have been working hard to find ways to keep the magazine going. Without it, unfortunately the magazine will have to close after Issue 60 (Autumn 2016).
More time is needed to find a long term solution, and so we have decided to ask for donations to raise enough money to keep afloat until March 2017. We are seeking £12,000 to fund a further 2 issues – Nos 61 (Winter 2016) and 62 (Spring 2017). This will be used to fund staff time and office costs.

Supporters can donate online via the the Crowdfunder website, where Iolo Williams speaks from the heart about what Natur Cymru means to wildlife in Wales.

Cheque donations are also very welcome - please make your cheque payable to Natur Cymru Ltd and post to Natur Cymru, Maes y Ffynnon, Penrhosgarnedd, Bangor, Gwynedd LL57 2DW.  Please remember to include your name and address.

Please note, cheques and pledges will not be cashed unless we reach our target.


  • Subscribe to NC via our website or by writing to us
  • Follow us on Facebook and Twitter @NaturCymru and share to interested parties so we can reach a wider audience
  • Write to us with letters of support which will help with our bids for funding (or email

If you belong to an organisation which might be able to help meet any of our needs, please contact us
Thank you everyone, and keep your fingers crossed!

    Monday, 11 April 2016

    Welsh Assemby elections - how will you vote?

    With the Welsh Assembly elections in May drawing near, Natur Cymru decided to approached the six main political parties and asked them about some of the environmental problems facing Wales today.

    Judging by what we know of our readership, many people in Wales feel passionately about environmental issues. But how easy is it to judge and compare the environmental approaches of the main political parties?

    We asked for a general statement, and replies to 4 questions. In Issue 58 we summarised the responses we received, but you can  read their full replies on our website here.

    QUESTION 1: What do you think are the main threats to the marine environment caused by human activities? How would you address these, and would marine conservation zones be a priority?

    QUESTION 2: Do you think Pillar 1 of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is delivering significant environmental benefits for the taxpayer? Are there any ways in which you and your Party would seek to reform CAP and the way in which it is administered in Wales to deliver improved environmental outcomes and public benefits?

    QUESTION 3: Do you think measures are needed to improve the performance of Natural Resources Wales (NRW) in fulfilling its duties and responsibilities towards wildlife and the natural environment, and if so, what would these be?

    QUESTION 4: Sustainability of major land-use changes (such as the Circuit of Wales, M4 Relief road); do the stated advantages of the developments (some of which may not turn out as claimed) outweigh the permanent loss of key habitat?

    We hope you find the results interesting and informative. They reveal many and varied points of view and policy intentions. We are extremely grateful to all those who provided responses to our questions, namely: Llyr Gruffydd AM, Plaid Cymru; Tom Sharman, Policy Communications Manager, Wales Green Party; Janet Howarth AM, Welsh Conservative Party; Martin Eaglestone, Welsh Policy Officer, Welsh Labour Party; and William Powell AM, Welsh Liberal Democrats Shadow Minister for the Environment & Rural Affairs. UKIP did not reply.

    Thursday, 24 March 2016

    Goats in Bee Bole

    The new kid is now 19 days old and finding its feet; quick and agile on steep slopes, but not yet able to cross over fences. For the time being the kid and its mum are separate from the rest of the gang, unable to get over fences, although today there was a second female or aunt in attendance.

    This morning’s weather was foul, cold and wet. As I drove up the hill, the kid and its mum were on the drive in front of me, just above the lower hairpin. They stared at my car for a while, but as the intensity of the rain increased, it was time for shelter. They ran up the slope and took refuge in one of the bee boles. The mum ushered in the kid, then squeezed in herself; a tight fit with her horns touching the ceiling.

    The bee boles were built for skeps, the baskets in which bees were kept before the invention of the beehive. It’s good to see old buildings put to new uses.

    Thursday, 17 March 2016

    Natur Cymru 58 Spring 2016

    Publication date: 18th March 2016

    Cover price £4.50, or quarterly by subscription £18 pa (individual) or £32 (group/organisation)

    Politics and Environment: views of the Parties
    In the run up to the May elections, where do the main parties stand on key environmental issues?

    Er clod i'n cloddiau cerrig ● Twn Elias, Dafydd Roberts a John H. Davies
    Mae cloddiau yn rhan annatod o dirwedd Cymru ac yn amhrisiadwy i fywyd gwyllt

    Travels in lichenology ● Tracey Lovering
    The trials and addictive joys of learning a new subject

    Native oyster restoration in Wales ● Andy Woolmer
    Bringing back the native oyster to Swansea Bay

    Enlightened, wildlife-friendly agriculture ● Ian Rappel
    Colin Tudge speaks of the Campaign for Real Farming

    Skokholm & Skomer 1946  ● David Saunders
    After the Second World War naturalists were keen to return to the Pembrokeshire Islands

    Pumlumon: a truly Living Landscape ● Liz Lewis-Reddy
    Restoring wildlife, sustainable agriculture  and vibrant communities back to the Cambrian Mountains

    When to intervene ● Rob Parry
    A thought-provoking plea to do more for wildlife before it's too late

    Discoveries in science ● Annette Townsend, Caroline Buttler & Cindy Howells
    Moulding and casting a fossilised coral

    Buglife ● Michelle Bales - Urban Buzz – creating wildlife areas for invertebrates

    Green Bookshelf ● David Saunders, Andy Mackie

    Dispatches from the hills ● David Elias
    Rewilding the Ranges

    Islands round up ● Geoff Gibbs
    News from the Skerries, and overwintering on the offshore islands of Wales

    Nature at large ● Audrey Watson
    BASC programme of mink control to protect water voles

    Woods and forests ● Rory Francis
    How green is my city? The importance of urban trees

    Life lines ● Russell De'Ath
    Building a resilience: the principles of Sustainable Management of Natural Resources

    Enquiries: 0300 065 4867

    Tuesday, 8 March 2016

    Films about conservation in Wales

    Over the past year I had the pleasure of meeting a lot of interesting people at National Trust properties across Wales to make short films about their conservation work.

    At Cwm Idwal we filmed early when the arctic alpines were blooming and later in the summer when everywhere was purple with heather. Amazing geology and incredible what a difference sheep grazing or the lack of it can make. Here is a link to the English and to the Welsh

    Cwm Ivy is another magical place down on the Gower where a medieval seawall has been breached and a brand new salt marsh has been created. The transition from pasture to salt marsh was incredibly quick, new species quickly filled the gap. Here is 
    a link to the film.

    To give people an idea of the sort of work that goes into managing a National Trust woodland we filmed in each season to show the activities at different times of year. This film condenses a year in the life of Rhodri Wigley and the Dolmelynllyn Woodland into 15 minutes. Here is a link to 
    the English and to the Welsh

    In Ceredigion there are 9 sites which are part of the Save Our Magnificent Meadows project. This particular site was just north of Aberporth and a group of volunteers was being trained to identify plants and thus be able to monitor the progress of the meadows. Here is a link to 
    the film

    The Cregennan Lakes between Cadair Idris and the Mawddach are the best in Wales, the benchmark against which all other lakes are measured. 
    This film incorporates dive footage which shows the plantlife growing at almost twice the depth of other lakes. 

    The waxcaps at Llanerchaeron are beautiful and so is the soil analysis and DNA science which helps you detect which species are present without the need to see the fruiting bodies. Here is 
    a link to the film

    I always look forward to my visits to Pembrokeshire but as I drove down through the storms I thought it was going to be a wasted journey. Fortunately the Gods were on our side and we had 5 hours of filming before the heavens opened again. This is what they are doing on the Castlemartin Peninsula

    At Hafod y Llan a second shepherd was appointed to control the sheep which were grazing the wrong parts of the mountain as soon as the first shepherd clocked off at the end of his shift. Here is a link to the English and to the Welsh

    The geography of the Migneint is so impressive and vast but it still needs managing. This is what is being done to improve the conditions for species such as the Red Grouse. Here is a link to the film

    I also had the opportunity to make some films about the Llyn Peninsula which were not commissioned by the National Trust but included a lot of their input. Here is a link to one of those films. 

    Thursday, 21 January 2016

    New exhibition at Brymbo Fossil Forest

    In Natur Cymru 43 (2012) Raymond Roberts wrote about the exciting fossil discoveries unearthed at the former iron and steelworks at Brymbo near Wrexham. There has been much work at the site since then, and Raymond has written about the developments in the latest issue of Earth Heritage, the twice-yearly geology magazine. You can download a copy for free here.

    Fossil of giant clubmoss
    One of the most important finds was that of a giant clubmoss from the Carboniferous Era, with the trunk and roots still connected. It was decided to extract this from the site, both for its own protection and to allow further access. After careful reconstruction the fossil will now be on display in Wrexham Museum from 30th January 2016.

    Sunday, 3 January 2016

    Over-wintering on Welsh Islands

    Here in North Wales we probably think we’ve had it pretty rough over the Christmas period, with roads flooded and closed, railways closed (Bangor to Holyhead a few days ago, Conwy Valley line closed for weeks to come) and difficult driving conditions.

    Spare a thought then for those hardy souls spending the winter on two offshore islands, Ramsey and Bardsey (Ynys Enlli). Life on offshore islands is never easy, but at least staff on islands without livestock, such as Skomer and Skokholm, are able to leave for the mainland in early winter.

    You can read about the adventures of Greg and Lisa Morgan on their Ramsey blog on the RSPB website. In addition to pictures of the little harbour being pounded by the gales 3 days ago and at the end of November, you will find out about the tidal turbine which was installed in Ramsey Sound in mid-December (in a calm spell!). To see how Lisa and Greg have coped over various winters, you can read their blog back to 2010.

    The situation on Bardsey is a bit more complicated. The Porter family have been living on Enlli since 2007, but by October last year both children were away at University in Falmouth (some way away....). They were due to come back for Christmas, by which time when the island should have had another two new residents: Sian Stacey and her partner Mark Carter. Mark has been Assistant Warden at the Bird Observatory for several years, and Sian is the new Island Manager for the Bardsey Island Trust. Sian and Mark were all set to arrive at the start of December, but had to wait on the mainland until 27th when the weather relented and Colin Evans was able to take them and the young Porters across.

    You can read Sian’s blog about their adventures at, and see pictures of the whole gang bathing in the Cafn on January 1st. Let’s see how they cope with the next three months!

    My pictures taken at the end of September show that life on Bardsey can be easier, at times.

    Cattle returned to the island in September
    A September sunset looking towards Ireland 
    Geoff Gibbs