I was born and brought up in Snowdonia, the stunning wild, poetic and dramatic heart of Wales. I always thought that its wild barren landscape had always been that way, until I explored deeper into its history. Its highest mountain "Eryri"in Welsh or Snowdon in English, means "place of Eagles",but there are no Eagles any more. We, humans, wiped them out.
This in itself sums up the sad legacy of how much we have lost. We imagine that this ancient land was always empty hills full of sheep, but this is not so. It is only a very recent way of farming the land.
Much of Wales would of been made of a mixed landscape of wild meadows, hill farms, mixed agriculture and arable land and the wild beautiful ancient Western Atlantic rainforest.
Yes, its true and makes so much sense. Wales has a climate of much rain and is relatively warm .Along with Scotland, Ireland, Cornwall and the Celtic countries, it was and still is in small parts home to the Atlantic temperate rainforest. There are still a few remnants left in Wales and once upon a time they would of been home to a huge variety of wildlife, flora and fauna.
Now sadly parts of Wales are some of the most desolate wildlife and biodiverse areas in Western Europe, yet still holds onto a belief that the legacy of barren hill farms is somehow its cultural identity, even though it employs and supports less than 2% of its people and most only survives on subsidies.
The great irony is that Wales could be a land around of its ancient heritage, not just its short term heritage. Proud of its wildlife, its history of noble warriors, its poets, its storytellers and bards, its inspiring women, and men, most who would barely recognise much of the land from ancient times. This legacy still survives in the ancient stories of The Mabinogian (the oldest literature from Britain) to the pride and support for the Welsh Rugby team, which is many ways is a remembrance of its ancient noble warrior culture.
In the same way we need to be brave if we are to help Wales become a haven for nature, for its wild ancient culture, to create a new wave of fortune for the economy through eco tourism, through local foods, through a new wave of creativity and the arts, in a land that is at the forefront of the green wild revolution. We can't be held back by groups that insist on their ways being the only way, especially when climate change and the loss of over 80% of our wildlife is upon us, extinction looms, we have to be brave, make new choices together, create jobs for the younger generation, that does not rely on the practices that have got us into situation.
Farmers and young people could be at the forefront of the wild revolution that needs to take place,
proud of their truly ancient heritage, wanting to restore what has been lost, working together to restore that ancient western rainforest, the valleys and mountains where nature will flourish once again.
And this should start with bringing back the Eagles to Snowdonia, to make a start, to show that as a nation we are proud of this land and all who live here, and our children live in a world full of the wonder of nature and its incredible bio-diversity for if patriotism is anything, its knowing ones ancient history.
We at Wilderlands are going g to do everything we can to help this happen and at the same time start to look at how together we can support to bring back some of the wonder of the Atlantic rainforest.
To find out more about how Wales and Snowdonia could be one of the great natural parks, read this brilliant article by Ben Macdonald, author of "Rebirding".