Policy action: speaking up for birds in Wales
WOS does not have the resources to become involved in all policy matters affecting birds in Wales, but it does comment on those where we consider that we have a unique viewpoint, on behalf of birdwatchers in Wales.
We also share information with other campaign groups, such as RSPB Cymru and Wildlife Trusts Wales, where we can support each other’s work.
WOS’s membership represents some of the most active, engaged and knowledgeable bird people in Wales – and your voice is often needed to make a difference. Where there are policy decisions that we believe our members really can influence – such as a government consultation or, occasionally, a petition – we will promote these to our members.
Politicians tell us that letters and emails from constituents really do make them stop and think. Twenty minutes of your time and expertise could help our politicians make the right decision – or stop them making the wrong one!
National Assembly for Wales
Most matters affecting wildlife, land management and planning in Wales are devolved, so your Assembly Member (AM) is the right person to contact. You will have several: one for the constituency in which you live, and four who cover the whole region. To find out who your Assembly Members are, enter your postcode in this website, and click through each AM to find their contact details.
Some issues that affect wildlife in Wales (e.g. large energy projects) are not devolved, and many wider issues require a UK or international solution. Your Member of Parliament is the person to contact – but if there is something affecting birds in their constituency, it’s well worth writing to your MP too, even if the decision will be made in the National Assembly. To find out who your MP is, enter your postcode in this website.
Policy responses from WOS
Two issues that WOS has been actively engaged with are:
Conservation of Greenland White-fronted Geese
The Welsh Government consulted on whether to ban the shooting of Greenland White-fronted Geese in 2013. WOS assessed the issue and pressed for an end to shooting of both European and Greenland races in Wales. The Government decided against such a prohibition, prompting Aaron Davies to set up a petition on Change.org that was signed by over 3,500 people and supported by WOS.
Further lobbying led to an inquiry by the Petitions Committee of the National Assembly, to which WOS presented evidence in June 2014. The Welsh Government then opened a second consultation in 2016, to which WOS responded (as did many supporters). Once again the Minister rejected calls for a ban (see our reaction here), although did announce funding for additional research work on the foraging and migratory behaviour in Wales.
Welsh Government policy on licensed shooting of fish-eating birds
We have been concerned about Natural Resources Wales’ granting of licences to shoot Goosanders and Cormorants in the absence of firm evidence of the impact of these birds on fish stocks and of the effect of shooting on the birds’ populations. We wrote to the Minister of Natural Resources, Carl Sargeant in Autumn 2015. The Minister’s reply dismissed our concerns about the legal basis of licensed control of fish-eating birds, but we have continued to press Natural Resources Wales on this matter.
Other consultations and issues on which we have commented:
Response to Severn Energy consultation – April 2009
Response to Welsh Government consultation on WOS response to A Living Wales consultation – December 2010
Letter to Caerphilly County Borough Council – comments proposals to develop Rhaslas Pond – March 2014
Response to Welsh Government consultation on its Response to Nature Recovery Plan – December 2014
Letter from Welsh Government in response to WOS concern about mortality of Barn Owls on A55 – July 2016