Countryside Council for Wales

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The Countryside Council for Wales (CCW; Welsh: Cyngor Cefn Gwlad Cymru (CCGC)) is an Assembly Government Sponsored Body. It is the Welsh Assembly Government's wildlife conservation authority for Wales. As a statutory advisory and prosecuting body, the Countryside Council for Wales champions the environment and landscapes of Wales and its coastal waters as sources of natural and cultural riches, as a foundation for economic and social activity, and as a place for leisure and learning opportunities. It aims to make the environment a valued part of everyone's life in Wales.

The Council of CCW consists of a Chairman and a maximum of ten members. They are appointed by the Welsh Assembly Government who also provides CCW's annual budget. The Council gives direction to the around 500 staff. CCW's headquarters is in Bangor, Gwynedd, North Wales, with other offices across Wales.

CCW activities

Advice CCW gives advice to Government on a wide range of matters which affect the countryside. This includes threats to the environment, the impacts of developments and changes in land use, international environmental matters and new legislation. CCW also advises on the declaration of marine nature reserves, land for protection under European Union Directives and other international obligations, and land designated by local authorities such as Heritage Coasts and Local Nature Reserves.

Establishing protected areas As well as advising Government and local authorities on land which should be protected, CCW can designate several categories of land to protect and conserve wildlife or landscape. These include National Nature Reserves and Sites of Special Scientific Interest as well as National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. National Trails are mapped out and negotiated in the first instance by CCW. Protected areas represent the jewels in the crown of the Welsh environment. But CCW's conservation responsibilities transcent these boundaries and cover the whole of Wales. Wales has 70 National Nature Reserves, three National parks, five Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs), and Sites of Special Scientific Interest cover around 12% of Wales. About 70% of the Welsh coastline is protected.

Most SSSI are privately owned and occupied, and through discussions and management agreements CCW helps ensure that the wildlife value of sites is retained and enhanced.

Protecting rare species Rare and threatened animals and plants are protected by law so that they are not disturbed or destroyed. But sometimes people may need to disturb these species, and CCW can advise and issue licenses for individuals and organisations. Photographers and research scientists are some of CCW's most regular customers.

Promoting everyone's enjoyment of the countryside CCW strives to improve opportunities for people to enjoy the countryside. By working closely with local authorities and other organisations the system of public paths is improving, and CCW is working on establishing a Wales Coastal Path by 2012. You can also enjoy open access to most of Wales' mountains and moorland. CCW's website also has details where you can walk. When you are enjoying the countryside please follow The Countryside Code.

Health and well being The natural environment is vital to the health and well-being of people in Wales. It provides our basic requirements for life - clean air, pure water and healthy soils, whilst its natural beauty is a source of inspiration that offers opportunities for people to enjoy and be physically active outdoors. Enjoying outdoor activities is also an excellent way of keeping fit and healthy. We are working with partners to make sure that people have green spaces on their doorsteps as people are more likely to walk if attractive public green space and footpaths nearby are accessible. For every 10% increase in greenspace there can be a reduction in health complaints equivalent to a reduction of five years in age.

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