It is tragic that Morgan Parry has died aged only 56. He was a leading environmentalist, well known throughout Wales and beyond, who lived on a smallholding near Caernarfon in North Wales.
I first came across Morgan in about 1994 when, as director of the North Wales Wildlife Trust (NWWT), he was involved in a campaign to register Brewery Fields, Bangor, as a village green. The land was threatened with housing. Although the green registration didn’t succeed, he must have been delighted when, in 2011, Gwynedd County Council transferred the 27-acre site of special scientific interest to the NWWT.
Years later we met again when Morgan was chairman of the Countryside Council for Wales. In that role he championed wildlife and access interests and was an eloquent advocate for the Welsh environment.
When CCW was preparing to merge with the Environment Agency and Forestry Commission to become Natural Resources Wales, Morgan applied to be chairman. Scandalously, he was not even offered an interview although he would have been ideal for the job, but fortunately he was appointed to the board. He was a friend of public access and understood the importance of Wales’s common land and fine landscapes. He argued for the continuation of the Welsh Access Forum, bringing together all the user groups and other access interests—and I’m pleased to say that it has endured.
A year ago Morgan (in a personal capacity) wrote to me to say that for the first time ever he found himself disagreeing with me. This was over the pump-storage proposal on common land at Glyn Rhonwy near Llanberis to which the Open Spaces Society had objected. Morgan knew the site well and felt that the project would not be damaging to the common or public access and that it could be carried out with an increase in public access and perhaps even new common rights. We had to agree to differ; the question of common-land consent has not yet been resolved.
It was always good to see Morgan on the annual walk which CCW (and now NRW) organises at the eisteddfod—a great opportunity for catching up. Lamentably he couldn’t be with us last year because of illness. However, he came to a Campaign for National Parks meeting in London in October 2012 where he spoke about the importance of national parks for their beauty, inspiration and access, and he gave us an opportunity to thank him for his advocacy and leadership as chairman of CCW.
Morgan was interested in everything to do with the environment and was caring, sensitive and knowledgeable about rural issues. A friend has told me how he visited the Hay Festival and then took the trouble to walk up to Hay Bluff to look at the peat restoration.
After graduating from the University of Bangor Morgan worked for Gwynedd County Council managing country parks and nature reserves, then became director of the North Wales Wildlife Trust. In 2000 he established the Wales office of WWF. Until his appointment to CCW in 2010 he was chairman of Cynnal Cymru, the Sustainable Development forum for Wales, and a writer and lecturer. He was a member of the Climate Change Commission for Wales.
Morgan took a pride in having a low ecological footprint (1.84 against the Welsh average of 3.14), but he felt he could do better. You can read here about his lifestyle and his positive outlook on life. If I could achieve a fraction of this I’d be pleased. Morgan leaves a huge hole in the environmental fabric of Wales.