Brecon Beacons National Park
The University has signed a strategic partnership agreement with the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority, this guides our work on research priorities in the National Park.
The Brecon Beacons National Park is a landscape of international importance, supporting eleven Special Areas for Conservation and more than 70 Sites of Special Scientific Interest and the Fforest Fawr European Geopark, and it is home to 33,000 people. Conservation is steered through the Park’s Management Plan, which stresses the need for ongoing evaluation and monitoring in order to ensure that actions remain relevant and keep pace with a changing world. Research is required to establish baselines and to identify and understand the trends that lead to changes in the Park’s natural, built, social and economic environment, the “state of the Park”. Research is therefore vital to the management process.
In March 2014 the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority (BBNPA) signed an agreement with Cardiff University in an exciting step towards developing a new applied research program in Wales. The signing of the agreement was done in the presence of the then Minister for Culture and Sport, John Griffiths who said: "Our National Parks are a national asset and cover almost 25 per cent of our land area here in Wales. I am therefore delighted to welcome this important agreement and am excited to see how this collaboration can help maintain the landscape, and develop natural resource management within the Brecon Beacons National Park."
In a changing world, National Park Authorities need to not only stay abreast of changes, but also to articulate visions of rural development and to be renowned as areas where new solutions to environmental and rural issues are tried, tested and shared. The partnership between Cardiff University and the BBNPA offers potential to foster and facilitate new collaborative research projects and provide the evidence base that is vital to the management of the Brecon Beacons National Park.
As a result of our partnership we developed a number of new research projects and PhDs.
SUSPLACE is a Marie Slodowska Curie Actions Initial Training Network funded by the European Commission, to train Early Stage Researchers (ESR) in innovative, interdisciplinary approaches to study Sustainable Place-shaping practices. The Sustainable Places Research Institute is hosting three ESRs in Cardiff, including two who will build research and expertise in the following areas linked to the BBNPA:
Place ambassadors: and their role in developing sustainable-place making projects and initiatives which have been developed in Wales and especially in the Brecon Beacons National Park area. The work will identify ‘road maps’ and toolkits for creating community development from sustainable energy, tourism, food and forestry projects.
Sustainable City Regions: The programme will also progress novel methodologies for assessing ‘deep place’ localities, and assessing a variety of policy interventions which aim at creating adaptive sustainable places, exploring a more circular and distributed economy for the city region. It is envisaged that the ‘city region’ work will incorporate neighbouring rural areas including the Brecon Beacons National Park; and the Gower in South West Wales).
Kate O’Sullivan: The impacts of energy transitions on vulnerable peripheral communities. Investigating new governance challenges arising from the low-carbon energy transition in peripheral communities in and around the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority. Funding source: ESRC and Brecon Beacons National Park Authority.
Justyna Kachniarz: Building sustainable rural communities through place-based financial arrangements. Surveying the recent developments in fragmented and patchy field of alternative community-based financial arrangements and look at their applicability to the rural areas in UK context. The research draws upon traditions of economic/human geography, heterodox economics and rural sociology. The PhD will be awarded through Cardiff School of Planning and Geography.
Jessica Antell: Gender, Health and Sustainability in using natural resources: A case study of Brecon Beacons National Park in Wales. This PhD will i) examine the attitudes, preferences and behaviour of men and women to understand how gender and social class shapes the preference, usage and ownership of the natural environment and its conservation, particularly how the natural resource is being used for health and well being outcomes, and ii) to highlight policy and practice that is influencing how the National Park and National Park Authority deliver health and wellbeing outcomes for different groups.
Biological Science colleagues actively use the National Park for field trips and for field based work.