Evaluation Of The Dyfodol Cambrian Futures Project
The Dyfodol Cambrian Futures project aimed to unlock the potential of the Cambrian Mountains area through an integrated approach to sustainable development based upon recognising the landscape, natural, and cultural value of the Cambrian Mountains.
The project builds on the work of the Cambrian Mountains Initiative (CMI) and explored innovative approaches to sustainable development that may have wider implications for the National Landscapes of Wales and other high value landscape areas.
An initial Evaluation Framework incorporating Key Evaluation Topics was developed in December 2018, and due to the exploratory nature of the project it was always envisaged that it would be an iterative process, with each evaluative session informing the next stage of the project.
However this approach was tested to the limits due to the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic impacting the delivery of the second half of the project. Specifically, with COVID-19 restrictions limiting engagement and collaborative working, and the disruption to the tourism industry making any attempt at measuring the direct economic impact of the project an impossible task. Therefore the decision was taken to adapt the evaluation objectives to ensure it provided the most useful learning and information to inform the delivery of long-term impacts and steer future developments.
The evaluation utilised a range of tried and tested methodologies including online surveys, interviews with stakeholders and businesses, and workshops, alongside the review of project records and data. An Interim Evaluation in December 2019 identified the need to prioritise sub-projects and therefore dropping others, or handing them over to partners, other agencies, or upskilling/ coaching /training/ supporting residents to take on roles of Ambassadors / Champions. This was to ensure that the workplan for the final year of the project was focussed on achieving the objectives and adding value to aspects of current work that have demonstrated the greatest potential for delivering the outcomes identified in the EAFRD funding application.
This approach proved successful and ensured that by the end of the project virtually all the key outputs and outcomes had been successfully delivered, despite the disruption of the Covid-19 pandemic. The final Evaluation in March 2022 concluded that “the project has established the Cambrian Mountains Initiative as a representative organisation that provides valued support for local businesses and communities and delivers benefits across the Cambrian Mountains Area.”
The governance and management of the project was found to be especially strong, and the project had the potential to leave a significant legacy and have significant impact going forward if additional funding could be sourced to maintain key staff and activities.
The success of this project boiled down to the right people listening to and collaborating with local communities and businesses, and delivering appropriate and workable solutions to local issues. Through this they have delivered significant value for a relatively modest investment.