The  Cambrian Mountain Initiative (CMI) commenced in 2007/8.    The first phase was a high profile project designed to support each of the six zones of the Cambrian Mountains to develop plans and structures in accordance with Welsh Government policies on community led sustainable development.

The president of the project was HRH The Prince of Wales.  The chairman was the Sustainable Futures Commissioner for Wales,   who was responsible for advising Welsh Government on sustainable development.   The partners were the county councils which covered the Cambrian Mountain Region and NRW who provided staff for the project.

Some projects covered the whole of the Cambrian Mountains,  for example,  the development of a Cambrian Mountain brand for food producers using a logo designed and licenced to the project by HRH the Prince of Wales.

The residents in each of the 6 zones were supported to develop a community led action plan and a tourism strategy which was individual to their specific zone.   The 15 villages and settlements which encircle Brechfa Forest and Llanllwni Mountain form the south west region of the Cambrian Mountains.

While the CMI funded,  provided templates,   and NRW staff or external consultants selected by NRW staff chaired the public meetings the principle with both of these documents was to support the communities of the Cambrian Mountains to develop their own plans for their area.

The emphasis of the plans was not only to record what was important to the communities but also to support the communities in developing a number of individual actions which the community could take forward for themselves.    The community action plan and the tourism strategy did not just document the views of the community on their aims,  but went on to identify individual projects to achieve those aims and development so that the community could apply for grant funding.  The advantage was that rather than each project being developed in isolation,   the process of generating the community led action plan and tourism strategy enabled every project to be take to the level of demonstrating community consultation,   recording the appropriate Welsh Government policies,  in our case where projects involved work in NRW managed public forests agreeing the methods and permission being granted by the local forest manager as one piece of work funded and overseen by the partners in the CMI.

At the end of the first phase of the CMI each zone within the CMI had an action plan a tourism strategy containing individual “oven ready”  grant applications that they could take forward as opportunities occurred to obtain funding.    This website is an example of the benefits of this system.  When funding was announced for projects on local heritage we were in a position to cut and paste all the information from the action plan and tourism strategy into the grant application forms.

Within each zone of the CMI a local organisation or individual was awarded a contract to provide assistance in identifying suitable venues for public meetings,   publicising the meetings and arranging catering service,  undertaking the consultation process for the draft documents and maintaining them.    In the Brechfa Forest and Llanllwni Mountain area,  the contract was awarded to BALM.  Volunteers have undertaken this work and have used the money raised to provide the match funding for grant applications to support the tourism industry.   –   We not only have copies of both the community led action plan and the tourism strategy but also copies of reports published by the CMI on the benefits of the project and minutes of meetings.    –  We are happy to assist any community organisation applying for grant funding for one of the actions in either document with supporting documentation required by the grant administrators.

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Phase 2 of the CMI.

The current phase of the CMI is focusing on taking forward actions identified by the first phase as benefiting all of the communities.

For example,  designation of the Cambrian Mountains as a Dark Skies area,   where visitors can enjoy the night sky without the distraction of light pollution by cities.    In each of the zones a site has been designated as a Dark Skies viewing site.

Developing leaflets and raising awareness of the Cambrian Mountains as a whole as a tourism destination.

BALM continues to work with the CMI.