Natur Cymru 2001 – 2017

In its original format, Natur Cymru ran as a quarterly publication, from 2001 to 2017.

You can access all the Natur Cymru content from this era online for free at the Biodiversity Heritage Library

An archive of the 2010-2016 Natur Cymru blog is also available online.

How it started

The magazine Natur Cymru – Nature of Wales was launched by First Minister Rhodri Morgan in 2001 as an initiative of the Wales Biodiversity Partnership, led by the Welsh Government, specifically to provide an essential channel of communication for its partners’ work for the natural environment.

This was a wide partnership of both Government and non-government organisations, which included the Countryside Council for Wales, Forestry Commission Wales, the Welsh Government, the National Museum of Wales, WWF Cymru and the Wildlife Trusts in Wales.

Other partners soon joined, including RSPB Cymru, Environment Agency Wales, National Trust Wales and the Snowdonia National Park Authority. Some years later the partnership arrangement was transformed into a Company Limited by Guarantee, again linked to the Wales Biodiversity Partnership as the parent body.

Natur Cymru till 2017

For 16 years, Natur Cymru – Nature of Wales was in publication as a quarterly, not for profit, high quality, paper publication. It worked to raise the level of knowledge and understanding of the natural environment across the board.

Within the resources available, it also sought to support the Welsh language within the natural environment community by sourcing articles written in Welsh. It was supported by government funding as well as subscriptions.

In addition to its scientific role, Natur Cymru – Nature of Wales also made the link between the natural world and the arts. It was recognised for the original artwork of its front covers, showcasing the work of artists working in Wales. Over the years it organised several nature writing and art competitions which have all contributed to it being viewed as a quality publication admired by others in the publishing world beyond Wales.

Ceasing publication in 2017

From 2001 until June 2016, Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and its predecessor bodies (Countryside Council for Wales, Forestry Commission Wales and Environment Agency Wales) supported Natur Cymru-Nature of Wales financially. They recognised the importance of the provision of information, research and a platform for debate on the sustainable management of our natural resources. This support took the form of office space and facilities, translation services, and the provision of at least one, sometimes two, part-time members of staff to produce the magazine.
In February 2016, whilst recognising the value of the publication, NRW informed the company that their support for the magazine would end in June 2016 because they had concluded that, with their focus on the provision of evidence, advice and enabling others, they could not maintain the staff time input for the magazine. Coupled with this was their move to provide only project funding for partnership working and no longer offering core funding.

Following the decision by NRW to withdraw support, the then Board of Natur Cymru faced a very challenging situation. They resolved to be proactive and to seek ways to maintain Natur Cymru as a going concern. A Crowdfunder appeal was launched – fronted by one of the magazine’s earliest subscribers, the TV wildlife presenter, Iolo Williams – with the aim of raising enough to publish a Winter 2016 and a Spring 2017 edition. The appeal was successful, attracting donations and messages of support from many professionals and members of the public across Wales and beyond. This enabled the production of a further three magazine issues, the last being in March 2017.

After the withdrawal of NRW’s support in June 2016, there continued to be tremendous volunteer input to the magazine. A wealth of high-quality articles continued to be provided by natural environment experts across Wales for no payment. An Editorial Panel, composed entirely of volunteers, continued to produce a quality publication.

However, the Board were in agreement that the way forward after March 2017 should involve a major evolution. The publication needed to be operated with a paid editor (the volunteer based Editorial Panel was not sustainable in the long run), and a paid administrative function. The volunteer input could continue through the continued submission of unpaid articles. However, it was clear with the production system of that time, this vision was not achievable without financial support in some form or another. As no support was forthcoming, the magazine sadly ceased production after the March 2017 edition. It was roundly missed by its subscribers.

A new way forward with INCC

In 2019, INCC chief executive Rob Parry entered into discussions with Natur Cymru Ltd, the company that had previously been running the magazine. INCC had formed as a CIO the year before and was keen to see Natur Cymru re-established and filling that vital niche in Welsh conservation communications.

The financial model was as challenging as ever, but with publication reduced from quarterly to biannual mailing (but with a slight increase in individual edition size), it was hoped that the magazine could be made financially self-sustaining on an equivalent subscriber base – a group of people who had already proven themselves very loyal to the magazine. Government funding would no longer be required.

Natur Cymru Ltd generously agreed to transfer its assets to INCC and wrote to its past subscribers to inform them of the forthcoming changes. INCC recruited a part time editor / production manager in August 2020. The first edition was to be subsidised by the remaining Crowdfund assets and generous grant support from the Waterloo Foundation and the Morgan Parry Foundation. The magazine re-launch is scheduled with its first new edition in January 2021 – picking up at edition number 63, where it left off in 2017.