I am Emma Douglas, the South Wales Regional Development Officer for Pori Natur a Threftadaeth (PONT), the conservation grazing organisation for Wales. PONT delivers land management solutions by grazing for biodiversity, fuel load control, access and cultural heritage. We act as the bridge ‘PONT’ between agriculture and nature conservation, helping to resolve issues through our practical experience and innovative solutions.
We work with local communities to raise awareness of the need for grazing livestock, to help manage abandoned land and to help graziers through training community stock checkers. Through Renew we can assist group across south Wales to learn new skills and engage people with their local wildlife and agriculture.
Why are you drawn to this kind of work?
I enjoy helping people to engage with agriculture and wildlife, it is rewarding to facilitate a connection with animals and nature. I have helped in setting up stock checking groups across south Wales. Stock checkers are trained and supported by a group including the livestock owner/s, land manager and PONT. Community stock checkers benefit from a connection with beautiful, nature rich sites, the livestock and exercise whist helping the livestock owner by relieving them of the time required to carry out daily checks. In combination, nature reserves throughout south Wales are receiving much needed management.
I have helped to establish two community cow share projects on Gower. The cattle are owned by shareholders, they graze nature rich land throughout their lives and ultimately become heathy, nutritious, ethical beef shared between the group. The cow share groups help people to learn new skills, exercise, manage land for biodiversity in the most natural and sustainable way and provide healthy, local food as a result.
What is your vision of your region in 2050?
We will have a healthy, thriving small to medium scale agricultural industry and people will have a connection with the food that they eat. We will use native breeds of livestock to graze nature rich land and use regenerative grazing techniques to build soil health, integrated with arable cropping. People will respect livestock and understand their role in the ecosystem and nature will thrive.
We will have had a change in the agricultural subsidies whereby farmers are rewarded for the outcomes that they achieve and have an input into the scheme. We will want to pay more for food and reward producers for the quality of their products. Governmental Policy will insist on public procurement of local, high quality produce in our schools, hospitals, nursing homes and civil buildings. Education and training will be provided to aid the transition.