Placemaking, Communities and Nature

Natural Resources Wales

Nature & Us is a year-long project to involve the people of Wales in a national conversation about the future of our natural environment. The project, hosted by NRW, is supported by Welsh Government, and the Future Generations Commissioner, and the results will be available for the whole of Wales.

The aim is to develop a shared vision for the natural environment in 2030, 2050, and the pathways needed to get there – in particular, considering the way our actions impact on the natural environment, how society’s relationship with nature needs to change, and to collate views on what we all need to do now, and over the next 30 years.

The project launched in February and uses online engagement tools to encourage people to share their views for example, by completing surveys, joining interactive webinars, attending workshops and taking part in discussion groups. There are resources for groups to download so that they can host their own conversation with their friends or community networks. Two writers in residence have been commissioned to capture the emotive side of the conversation through poetry and prose.

Once the initial involvement period closes at the end of April, the views gathered will be analysed through a collaborative process – working across sectors to identify common themes, shared values, and more contested issues. NRW is keen to use deliberative processes to better understand the beliefs and motivations that sit behind the issues that people have raised. The draft vision will then be drawn together through a deliberative process.

Landscape has always played a key role in deliberative processes about places and place-making. One of the questions we pose is “What future do you want for our natural environment?” It will be interesting to see how many people respond by describing landscape features, and the physical environment around them.

People can articulate the characteristics of landscape that are special to them, without always knowing the socio-economic processes that enable that landscape to be maintained, or that shape landscape change over the years. We like the patchwork of fields. We feel connected to the mountains. We love the escapism of the bleak moorland. The challenge for Nature and Us is to move beyond the scenery and to make the connections with the everyday – the food we buy and eat, the way we travel, our general consumption of energy and goods.

To do this Nature and Us uses future scenarios in its workshop and webinar sessions. Building on and updating the National Ecosystem Assessment work – this is a great way to show how the choices we make today could have very different outcomes on our future landscape, our natural environment and also the way we live. Those choices are not necessarily in the hands of government and government bodies alone – society has a massive role to play in tackling the nature and climate emergencies.

The hope for the Vision itself is that it becomes a dynamic, long-term reminder of what we all want to achieve working together, and whether we are on course to achieve it. It has the potential to lay the foundations for future policy making for environmental, economic, social and cultural well-being. The national conversation that sits behind it will continue long after the survey closes. And that is the real point of this – that by extending our reach we collectively understand the implications of the climate and nature emergencies and how our response to it may affect different communities in different ways. Nature and Us will create a platform that helps us all take joint action, learn and adapt.

To take part in the national conversation go to: