New chapter for mid Wales’ Summit to Sea project as changes are made to its governance

Summit to Sea, a joint initiative working to benefit the local economy and wildlife in mid Wales, has today (21 October) announced that one of its eight partners, Rewilding Britain, is stepping aside from the project.

The decision follows feedback from community members and farmers’ unions who were unhappy with Rewilding Britain’s involvement. As a result, the Summit to Sea partners - including Rewilding Britain – felt that changes needed to be made to the way the project was run.

The charity, which played a pivotal role in securing £3.4m for Summit to Sea in 2018, will continue to focus on its role as a small, agile catalyst organisation, embarking on new ventures to restore nature and tackle climate breakdown.

Having listened to the concerns of those who live and work in the area, Summit to Sea’s steering group hopes it can now look to the future and work alongside local people to hear their views on how the project can benefit the local economy and environment alike.

By helping to establish businesses and forms of production that will benefit nature, Summit to Sea will aim to connect a nature-rich area stretching from the Pumlumon massif all the way down to Cardigan Bay.

Summit to Sea Director, Melanie Newton, said: “The community is at the heart of the Summit to Sea project, and so the views of local people are vital to the partnership. We have greatly valued Rewilding Britain’s involvement – the charity has provided much-needed support through its short-term role in getting the project up and running.

“The project steering group – including Rewilding Britain - has taken on board concerns raised by local people and farming unions and decided to make changes to the way Summit to Sea is managed. We are now eager to move forward with the community and pave the way for a future which is beneficial to all.”

Rewilding Britain’s Chief Executive, Rebecca Wrigley, said: “We’re hugely proud to have helped get Summit to Sea up and running. It’s an inspiring project about restoring nature, benefitting rural communities and supporting the local economy. To succeed, it has to be community led and community supported as it finds ways to help both people and nature to thrive.

“Our role is to support projects in getting off the ground. One of our key principles is that local organisations and communities should be at the heart of this. While Summit to Sea held a series of face to face meetings and consultations locally, we should have communicated more widely that the project was to be community-led and owned. We’ve learnt some invaluable lessons about how to do this in the most effective way, which we’re committed to putting into practice elsewhere.”

Powys County Councillor, Elwyn Vaughan, added: “I welcome this new chapter in the project, and am hopeful that it marks the start of a successful partnership between the people of mid Wales and Summit to Sea”

Community engagement sessions, set to begin in mid-November this year, will shape how Summit to Sea’s funding will be spent and to which businesses and organisations grants are awarded. Initiatives could include anything from establishing businesses that will benefit nature, culture and the economy, to working with farmers to develop ideas for land management.

Participation in the project is entirely voluntary and Summit to Sea is eager to hear from anyone with a shared interest in mid Wales’ culture, environment and economy. The project hopes that, with the help of community members, it can establish and build on schemes which will preserve landscapes and livelihoods for generations to come. 

Information about the drop-in sessions will be shared on the Summit to Sea website and newsletter. Details for registering for the newsletter are also available on the website. 

Notes to editors:

  • Summit to Sea is a five-year collaborative project which aims to restore a flourishing environment and economy across mid Wales by offering grants and support to local businesses and organisations that share the vision.
  • As of 21 October, the project is led by seven partners, including the Woodland Trust, Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust, RSPB, Marine Conservation Society, PLAS Marine Special Area of Conservation, Whale and Dolphin Conservation and WWF — each of which provides its own invaluable insight into environmental issues in mid Wales.
  • The project aims to bring together one continuous, nature-rich area, stretching from the Pumlumon massif – the highest area in mid-Wales – down through wooded valleys to the Dyfi Estuary and out into Cardigan Bay. 
  • Images of the area for media use are available here

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