The Brecon Beacons National Park in south Wales, UK, has had the title, International Dark Sky Reserve, bestowed upon it.
Thanks to its lack of light pollution and its resultant suitability for showcasing the wonders of the night sky, the Welsh national park joins its neighbour from across the Bristol Channel, Exmoor National Park, in proudly bearing the accolade. There are only 5 sites around the world that have gained the status, and the three outside of the UK are Aoraki Mackenzie in New Zealand, Namibia Rand Nature Reserve in the southern African state of Namibia, and Mont Megantic in Quebec, eastern Canada.
It is recognition that the Brecon Beacons Park Society and National Park Authority have been working towards for two years, helped by support from a number of other organisations, including Dark Sky Wales, the Brecon Beacons Trust, the University of Glamorgan, and the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales.
Martin Taylor-Morgan of the anti-light pollution organisation, the International Dark Sky Association, was quoted in the Daily Mail, saying, ‘We are gradually losing the night to light pollution, which is eroding the view of the night sky. Fewer and fewer people are able to see the Milky Way from their back gardens. This is not just an aesthetic loss. It is a loss of part of our culture. Whilst no one wants all the lights to be switched off, we can improve the lighting we use in towns and cities. However, the best views of the night sky come from places such as the Brecon Beacons, [where people] have dedicated themselves to protecting and restoring the night sky for all to enjoy.’
Despite already being a popular destination for hikers and those who appreciate scenery on a grand scale, the Brecon Beacons National Park is likely to see an increased number of visitors this summer, following the announcement of its inclusion as one of the world’s official Dark Sky locations. Established in 1957, it is one of Wales’ three National Parks, the other two being Snowdonia National Park and the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.