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Nature Wise – Actions for all Seasons

SPRING is a good time for…

Spotting migratory birds – seasonal nature spectacles are highlighted by North Wales Wildlife Trust

Attaching a bell to cat collars to alert fledgelings and other baby animals


20 – 31 March

Getting active during the Sustrans Big Walk & Wheel Week 

24 – 30 April

Taking part in Wales Outdoor Learning Week (Natural Resources Wales)

No Mow May

Supporting our pollinators by leaving your mower in the shed (Plantlife)

3 May

Celebrating nature’s symphony by taking part in International Dawn Chorus Day (Wildlife Trusts)

1 – 7 May

Supporting our Hedgehog population during Hedgehog Awareness Week.

March – August

Looking after nesting birds in your garden (House Beautiful)

Getting outside and connecting with nature during Wales Nature Week (Biodiversity Wales)

SUMMER is a good time for…

Making sure there is a water source for wildlife – bird bath, pond, even an old saucer in the garden

Make space for nature and reverse nature loss. (Scotland’s Nature Agency)

Getting fit and healthy whilst enjoying the sunshine by making cycling or walking a part of your everyday routine (Sustrans)

Cleaning up your local area and discovering your local Litter Picking Hub (Keep Wales Tidy / Caru Cymru)


19 – 25 June

Celebrating all the little things that run the world during National Insect Week (Royal Entomological society)

14 July

Helping to assess the health of our environment by taking part in the Big Butterfly Count (Butterfly Conservation)

22 – 30 July

Getting outside and connecting with nature during Wales Nature Week (Biodiversity Wales)

AUTUMN is a good time for…

Allowing vegetation to dieback naturally, mowing less, and leaving seedheads for birds to feed on

Gathering leaves, hollow sticks, bark, dried grass and moss to build a bug hotel (Woodland Trust)

Planting bulbs (Gardeners World)

Creating a mini pond (RSPB)

Harvesting wildflower seeds ready for next year (Kew Grow Wild)


15 – 24 September

Organising or getting involved in a local beach clean Great British Beach Clean

September – October

Sowing wildlife- friendly flowers (RSPB)

October

Checking bonfires for hibernating animals such as hedgehogs, toads and animals. (British Hedgehog Preservation Society)

November to March

Planting a tree! Follow the guide from the Woodland Trust

WINTER is a good time for…

Ensuring you provide water and high-energy food for your garden birds (RSPB)

Taking care of your compost heaps – always check for hibernating wildlife before turning! (Wildlife Trusts)


25 November – 3 December

Join the conservation sector and volunteer groups during National Tree Week to plant thousands of trees to mark the start of tree planting season (The Tree Council)

January – April

Helping the local toad population cross the road by volunteering with your local Toad Patrol

Additional links

Natures Calendar (Wales Biodiversity Partnership)

RSPB’s Actions for nature seasonal calendar

Monthly guide to nature (RSPB)

Butterflies (North Wales Wildlife Trust)  

10 Ways to Help Hedgehogs (BBC Gardeners World Magazine)

Citizen Science for biodiversity | NatureScot

Nature Wise – Actions for all Seasons Read More »

Free school meals – a healthy and sustainable school meal system

Informed by the experience in Sweden, where all primary and pre-school meals are tax-financed, we heard how the City of Malmo increased the amount of organic food served to 70% within 10 years, whilst also achieving a 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions (GHGe) on 2002 levels. This was complemented by insights from Castell Howell Foods, an independent food wholesaler supplying 1,800 schools and the majority of local authorities in Wales.

This roundtable was held as part of our work on behalf of Welsh Government to support the foundational economy in Wales. Here are 8 of the key messages that emerged.

1. Systems change requires collaboration across policy area

The goal to provide organic food in uFSM in Malmo was driven by the Environment Department, however buy-in and cooperation from the departments for Health and Education was crucial. It was part of a wider vision for the City’s food system published in 2010 that set out that by 2020:
o All food served in Malmo should be certified organic
o GHGe from procured food should have decreased by 40% from a 2002 baseline.

2. It’s not all about budgets – a shared understanding can achieve more

In the case of Malmo, no additional money was added to food budgets to help with the transition to organic. However significant additional money was provided for training, education and raising understanding of how each part of the system could support the wider sustainability mission. This included tailored courses for staff at all levels and in all parts of the food system – cooks, managers, teachers, commissioners etc. Rather than just issuing instructions or calls to action, these courses focused on why the policy was needed and the impact that each part of the system could have in terms of making a difference and influencing others. These accompanied practical courses for delivery staff about how this could be done e.g. at the most practical level, how low carbon, nutritionally balanced meals on a budget could be produced.

3. Choose a goal that can be defined and measured (and if an existing indicator fits – use it!)

A goal for organic food was chosen over ‘sustainable food’ as there was already an agreed definition of what constituted organic, plus a credible existing certification system that i) could guarantee many of the standards and processes that the City was looking for and ii) provided a tangible way to evidence and measure progress. This removed the need to agree, embed and find a way to measure any new definition of the desired outcomes.

4. Local does not always mean better

The push to support local economies can sometimes detract from the bigger debate about what sort of local economies we want to see emerging. In terms of food, this label says nothing about how food has been produced in terms of quality, sustainable farming methods, animal welfare etc. This was another reason that the ‘organic’ goal was chosen by the Malmo team.

5. The role of teaching and catering staff is critical

In Malmo, the role of teaching staff, especially in pre-schools, was vital to encourage interest and curiosity in new foods amongst children. Meal times are also a learning opportunity and so teachers are encouraged to eat with the children and to work with kitchen staff to link the food that is being eaten to classroom activities – a factor also raised in the Learning Lessons from Scotland event.

6. It is vital to involve the supply chain

Transformation involves collaboration and in Malmo the supply chain needed to be supported and strengthened to make the policy work. In Wales, we also need to learn how to better enable producer-purchaser-policy partnerships that are based on reciprocity and help to rebalance risk. This is so that risks and short-term costs of trying to embed the ways of working that we all wish to see are not borne disproportionately by producers.

7. We need to rethink the way that staff in the food sector are valued

In Malmo, the heightened awareness about the role that school catering staff can play in the wider sustainability picture helped shift perceptions of these roles as ‘nothing jobs’ to ones that chefs in the restaurant business wanted to move into, with pull factors including the social contribution they could make as well as the family-friendly hours. In Wales, all parts of the food sector are struggling with staffing and a lack of young entrants. Reframing the opportunities within the food sector could help address this, provided that organisations are also supported to provide jobs that meet Fair Work criteria.

8. It’s a marathon not a sprint

Change takes time. The Malmo team set themselves a 10-year window to achieve the City’s goals. Even though these were not achieved in full by the 2020 deadline, it is still significant progress that others in Sweden and beyond wish to emulate. Success has been attributed to committed leadership, cross-party, cross-sector buy-in, hard work and consistent reiteration of a clear and ambitious target.

Background

The roundtable was held on 28 July 2022. The speakers were Helen Nilsson, Project Manager, Environment Department, City of Malmo and Edward Morgan, Group Corporate Social Responsibility & Training Manager, Castell Howell Foods. Presentation slides are available from admin@cynnalcymru.com.

You can read more about our first roundtable Learning Lessons from Scotland here and our wider work supporting a community of practice on the foundational economy here.

If you would like to join future roundtables or have ideas or comments around this or future themes, please contact Clare Sain-ley-Berry clare@cynnalcymru.com

Free school meals – a healthy and sustainable school meal system Read More »

Public Health Wales: Health and well-being impacts of climate change infographic

Launched to coincide with the Council of Parties 26 (COP26), the infographics focus on the relationships between the natural environment and health, the population groups affected and some of the key health and wellbeing impacts of climate change and those population groups who could be affected.

Public Health Wales (PHW) has committed in its long term plan to work with our partners to prepare for, and respond, to the expected and unexpected impact of climate change in Wales. As part of our contribution, the Wales Health Impact Assessment Support Unit (WHIASU) has been working with partner agencies including Natural Resources Wales, Renew Wales and Welsh Government, on a Health Impact Assessment (HIA) of Climate Change in Wales.

The infographics are part of this work which is ongoing and aims to ensure that organisations and Public Bodies in Wales have the evidence and information they need to plan for and respond to the health and wellbeing impacts on people and communities that climate change will bring.

The infographics can be downloaded here along with the references used to create the infographics.

Public Health Wales: Health and well-being impacts of climate change infographic Read More »

The Sylfaen Toolkit

The Sylfaen programme supported six community-led organisations to develop and grow together. Wales Co-operative Centre delivered training around key areas that were identified as essential to running a successful community venture – from asset-mapping to income generation.

Key points from these courses have been summarised in one helpful booklet as a refresher to anyone looking to brush up on existing skills or to develop new ones. The booklet covers:

Part 1 – Vision, Mission, Values, Aims and Objectives

Part 2 – Community Engagement

Part 3 – An Introduction to Asset Mapping

Part 4 – Future-Proof Business Planning

Part 5 – Fundraising

Download the toolkit

The Sylfaen Toolkit Read More »

Sustainable transport and active travel

We rely on transport as part of daily life; whether to get to work, school, hospital, or leisure activities. Relying on fossil fuel powered cars as our main mode of transport can have negative implications on our health and well-being due to high levels of air pollution, low levels of physical activity, and stress.

Transport emissions from fossil fuels contribute towards climate change and can increase air pollutants. In 2014, 12.77% of greenhouse gas emissions in Wales were from transport; amounting to 5.92Mt CO2e.

Climate change related extreme weather patterns may increase the frequency of which transport infrastructure will need to be repaired or replaced.

Redesigning our transport infrastructure to support active forms of travel can increase community cohesion and improve health and well-being.

There is potential to increase green jobs through renewable fuel technology development and implementation.

What the public sector is doing:

World / Europe:
The EU has a strategy for ‘low-emission mobility’ which sets out priorities of increasing transport efficiency, low-emission energy technology, and zero-emission vehicles take-up.

UK:
The UK government has a report outlying future transport plans; ‘ Low Carbon Transport: A Greener Future – A Carbon Reduction Strategy for Transport (2009)‘.

Wales:
The Welsh Government has put in place an ‘Active Travel Act (2013)’ and an‘Active Travel Action Plan’ to help get Wales cycling and walking.

The Welsh Government has recently consulted on ‘ A Clean Air Zone Framework for Wales’ designed to advise local authorities on how to reduce air pollution from transport and other sectors.

What the third sector is doing:

Community transport providers enable isolated or disabled people to remain connected to their community.

Living Streets Wales also campaigns for better opportunities for walking and challenges the dominance of cars on our streets.

Sustrans Cymru has a number of resources and campaigns to encourage active travel and safer streets
– their ‘Bike Life Cardiff’ report sets out the challenges and opportunities for active travel in Cardiff.

How you can make a difference:

Reduce your car use where possible by working from home, taking public transport, or by cycling or walking to your destination.

Avoid flying and if you must fly consider off-setting emissions by contributing to tree planting projects.

Develop a travel plan for your work or project and consider joining an electric vehicle car club.

Join a local walking group to enjoy the benefits of this free, low-impact exercise or consider setting yourself an ‘Active Travel’ goal for health reasons.

Sustainable transport and active travel Read More »

Why saving water matters

Being water efficient not only helps to reduce water wastage but as an organisation, you pay for all the water that passes through your meter – so it makes good financial sense to ensure you are not letting any of it go to waste. Taking simple inexpensive measures can typically reduce your water consumption by up to 50%.

Saving water is also good for the environment and will help to reduce the carbon footprint of your organisation. Cleaning and treating water uses valuable energy and resources, and if water levels fall, the wildlife in wetland habitats may suffer. Also, if you are heating your water prior to use, any reduction in water consumption will also have a positive impact on your energy bills.

Calculate your water usage

As with carbon foot-printing, it is important to understand how much water you are currently using in order to reduce your impacts.

The following resources are available to help you in this process:

Water Footprint Assessment

Reduce your water usage

Simple, quick measures to reduce your water usage include installing a water-butt, water-saving taps, and low-flush or dual-flush toilets. More ideas for ‘simple changes’ to help you save water and reduce leaks can be found from Waterwise and The Carbon Trust’s Energy and Water Efficiency’ guide.

Dwr Cymru offer businesses Water Efficiency Audit.

They estimate that most small businesses (or organisations) can typically achieve a 20 – 50% decrease in the amount of water they use.

Their Rainscape project also provides ideas and links to further resources for ‘rainscaping’ buildings; from simple rainwater collection to more ambitious projects such as green roofs. There is also information about ‘porous paving’ which is increasingly required due to recent changes in planning consents.

Why saving water matters Read More »

A Guide to the Well-being of Future Generations Act

It will make the public bodies listed in the Act think more about the long-term, work better with people and communities and each other, look to prevent problems and take a more joined-up approach.

Cynnal Cymru – Sustain Wales is the leading organisation for sustainable development in Wales. Our mission is to make Wales the first Sustainable Nation. Cynnal Cymru’s overall focus is on developing and promoting a sustainable, resource-efficient and low-carbon society through engagement with enterprises, the third sector and communities. We connect local and national organisations together from across Wales to help each other develop more sustainable solutions and deliver on the Well-being of Future Generations Act. This will help us to create a Wales that we all want to live in, now and in the future.

To make sure we are all working towards the same vision, the Act puts in place seven well-being goals.

Sustainable Development Principle and Ways of Working

The Act puts in place a ‘sustainable development principle’ which tells organisations how to go about meeting their duty under the Act.

There are five things that public bodies need to think about to show that they have applied the sustainable development principle. Following these ways of working will help us work together better, avoid repeating past mistakes and tackle some of the long-term challenges we are facing.


Why do we need this law?

Wales faces a number of challenges now and in the future, such as climate change, poverty, health inequalities and jobs and growth. To tackle these we need to work together. To give our children and grandchildren a good quality of life we need to think about how the decisions we make now will impact them. This law will make sure that our public sector does this.

More information

For a summary of the Act see a copy of the booklet ‘The Essentials’.

You can find out more about the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act on the the Welsh Government website.

A Guide to the Well-being of Future Generations Act Read More »

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