Brecon Beacons Park Society and Brecon Beacons National Park Authority are delighted to announce that the Brecon Beacons National Park has become only the fifth destination in the world to be granted prestigious International Dark Sky Reserve status making it Wales’ first International Dark Sky Reserve.
The accreditation is awarded by the International Dark-Sky Association, based in the USA. International Dark Sky Reserves are areas recognised as possessing an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and nocturnal environment specifically protected for scientific, natural, educational, cultural, heritage or public enjoyment.
Back in 2011 Brecon Beacons Park Society and the National Park Authority initiated an ambitious project to gain International Dark Sky Reserve status for the Brecon Beacons, one of Wales’ National Parks. They set up collaboration with the University of Glamorgan, Dark Sky Wales and the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales. The project was made possible thanks to generous funding from the Brecon Beacons Trust, Brecon Beacons National Park Authority’s Sustainable Development Fund and initial seed funding from the Brecon Beacons Park Society.
To get through the rigorous application process local astronomers conducted a survey to assess the levels of light pollution, and lighting engineers audited the existing external lighting in the National Park. Information leaflets and letters were distributed to residents living in the ‘core zone’ to help them understand the simple measures they could take, such as tilting outdoor security lights downwards instead of up, that could make a massive difference to how dark the night sky appears. Local communities supported the bid, with residents in Talybont-on-Usk holding their own Star Party and organising a community light switch off.
Environment Minister John Griffiths, said: “Becoming Wales’ first International Dark Sky Reserve is a massive coup for the National Park, and I hope other areas follow suit. I’m pleased to see that Brecon Beacons National Park, an area of substantial environmental importance, has been afforded this special designation to protect it against the effects of light pollution. It shows the level of commitment here in Wales to tackling climate change and improving peoples' physical, spiritual and mental well-being.”
The Brecon Beacons Dark Skies project has received support from the Prince of Wales.
For more information about light pollution or the Brecon Beacons Dark Skies project, please visit www.breconbeacons.org/darkskies or www.breconbeaconsparksociety/national-park/dark-skies