COMMUNITIES across Wales can lead the charge on a bold and rapid green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic,  a new report has said.

The Green Recovery: Priorities for Action report, which outlines the practical and prioritised actions that will inform Wales’ sustainable pathway out of the COVID-19 pandemic, was recently presented to the minister for environment, energy and rural affairs Lesley Griffiths.

The report is authored by the green recovery task and finish group, chaired by the chair of Natural Resources Wales (NRW) Sir David Henshaw, and established at the direction of the minister in July 2020.

The task and finish group was charged with developing big ideas that could be taken forward in the short and medium term as part of Wales’ recovery from the pandemic.

168 proposals were received from a cross-section of society including community groups, social enterprises, charities, public bodies, private companies and environmental groups across Wales. Ideas ranged from micro-projects within a town or village, to initiatives spanning local authority boundaries or those that take a pan-Wales approach.

Amongst the measures championed by the group in the report are:

Nature-based solutions

  • Accelerating long term investment in peatland restoration 
  • Taking a partnership approach to restoring and maintaining protected sites 
  • Woodland and hedgerow restoration and expansion
  • Increasing the blue carbon potential of our seas through habitat restoration
  • River and wetland restoration

Circular economy

  • Extension of repair/reuse activities
  • Innovation to create new markets for high-value wood products and wool


  • Retrofitting of social housing
  • Investment in new housing to support decarbonisation agenda and create green jobs

Skills, training and apprenticeships 

  • All new public investment programmes should support a defined number of work experience and apprenticeship opportunities
  • Expand or develop higher education courses to ensure Wales has an appropriately skilled workforce for the future

READ MORE: 14 exemplar sites “among very best woodland in Wales” announced for National Forest

Sir David Henshaw said: "The climate, nature and economic crises we face have been brought into sharp focus by the coronavirus pandemic – but so too have the opportunities which is what the task and finish group have set out to uncover and prioritise for delivery.

"From the outset, our bold ambition for this group has been to be the vanguard for green change right across Wales. From nature-based solutions to green apprenticeships, we have selected a range of proposals that we feel can be taken forward at pace, and with urgency. They are ideas that we hope will become beacons of example to be emulated by others.

“Wales may be a small country, but it is our ambition that the ideas put forward in this report will leverage the collective power that we need to make a big impact in how we tackle the climate and nature emergencies, and lay the foundation for a more sustainable future for our nation.”

To maintain and build momentum, members of the task and finish group have committed to continue to work together, by forming a Green Recovery Delivery Partnership. By pooling its collective leadership, the group will provide direct support to those who have submitted proposals as part of this process, to enable them to drive forward implementation.

The group will also lead another call for proposals in February 2021, enabling others to contribute and will continue to encourage others to engage in the ongoing dialogue.

Lesley Griffiths, minister for environment, energy and rural affairs, said: “As a Government, we have continued to maintain the COVID-19 pandemic will only increase the focus we place on our response to the climate crisis, rather than detract from it.

“Under our COVID-19 reconstruction priorities, we have committed to respond energetically to the climate emergency by pursuing a strong decarbonisation agenda, managing our land for the benefit of rural communities and future generations and protecting and enhancing our natural resources.

“Alongside those commitments and investments we have already made, this report from NRW forms part of our efforts to translate those priorities into action.

“But – as highlighted in during both Climate Week and the Wales Biodiversity Partnership Conference, responding to the twin crises in climate and biodiversity – and supporting our natural landscapes and communities across Wales to respond to them – cannot be accomplished by government alone, and we want to ensure partners at all levels work alongside us in reaching these goals.

“As such, I am very grateful to Natural Resources Wales and the green recovery task and finish group, and other partners, for their work on the Green Recovery: Priorities for Action report.

“The work is an important contribution to Wales’ continued response to the climate and environment issues we face, and we look forward to working with NRW and other partners as we implement those outcomes recommended within the report.”

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