I am delighted to be able to accept the invitation of The Countryside in 1970 movement to be the Chairman of the Committee for Wales. The setting up of this committee is a development of considerable importance to Wales, since it comes at a time when increasing attention is being given, by Government and other official bodies, to the enormous and almost overpowering task of conserving not only the most outstanding features of the countryside of Wales, but also of developing its basic rural life and its many natural resources.
Our chief problem lies in how to achieve these aims in the most effective way, and this is something that will not be easy.
At the same time as the formation of the committee was publicly announced on the 28th November, it was made known that one of its first tasks will be the preparation of a programme in Wales as a contribution to European Conservation Year in 1970, under the auspices of the Council of Europe. Thus, we in Wales now have a responsibility to promote, in a European context, our ideas and our proposals about the management and conservation of our renowned countryside.
It is a countryside quite as beautiful and magnificent as any in Europe, or outside it for that matter, but it is in danger of rapidly losing its unique individuality and magnificence, and we are here to make sure that such a situation is thwarted by co-operative efforts.
Wales is not a large country, and it is surprising how quickly areas of beauty can be marred because it is not sufficiently realised just how careful one has to be. Although there are, of course, several and sometimes difficult problems to be encountered in urging measures for caring for the countryside, there is doubtless sufficient determination and goodwill in Wales to allow us to cast our eyes towards a countryside of the future of which we shall be rightly proud.
What is vital for success in this very important aspect of human endeavour is goodwill, education and co-operation from the many bodies already involved in the preservation of the countryside and from people in Wales, whom we hope will participate. As far as I can see, the main purpose of this committee is to develop that goodwill, co-operation and public participation, and also the furthering of education about the Welsh countryside through all the channels available.
Looking around, it would appear that the committee is wonderfully suited to undertake these tasks.
We have amongst us people well-versed in the major fields of interest involved. We have administrators, planners, economists, conservationists, agriculturalists, foresters, industrialists, those concerned with leisure and recreational facilities, naturalists, scientists, educationists and public relations specialists. It is thus apparent that with so many expert members a very wide spectrum of interest is represented by those able to speak with authority, and this will be of immense value to the committee's tasks.
It is here that I feel somewhat out of place, having listed so many experts, but I can assure you it is a very great pleasure to be associated with such a committee, and I hope to be able to contribute as much as I can to its functioning. I can claim no expertise, as yet, in the sphere of the countryside, but suffice it to say that I have a very deep love and attachment to the country, which exhibits itself in great happiness whenever I can be in it. If we, as a committee, can communicate a fraction of such feelings to Welsh people and to Europeans as a whole, we shall certainly have achieved a major part of our task.
It remains for me to say that although I am not yet acquainted with the Welsh countryside, I intend to make very effort to reverse the situation during my time at Aberystwyth, and if excuses have to be made, the Chairmanship of this committee should be more than adequate.