Rural campaigners raise concerns over ‘future direction’ of Bannau Brycheiniog national park
Rural campaigners have expressed concern about the future direction of Bannau Brycheiniog National Park, warning potential restrictions on sheep grazing could have devastating consequences.
On Monday it was confirmed that the National park would revert to its Welsh language name only in future.
The park’s managers said the present name referencing wood-burning, carbon-emitting beacons no longer fits the ethos of the park and that they want it to be celebrated for its natural and cultural heritage by becoming net zero by 2035.
They also set targets for nature recovering with clean water environments by the end of the decade, as well as meeting the health, economic, recreational and residential needs of people in the park by 2028.
Along with the name change a plan was outlined to restore tree cover, wetlands, hedgerows, and wildflowers to attract wildlife, while introducing localised renewable energy sources such as small wind turbines.
Local people will be encouraged to farm in a way that benefits nature, such as restricting grazing to certain areas, leaving a cover crop over winter for birds to eat and not spreading manure or fertiliser where it could contaminate watercourses.
However, Rachel Evans, a farmer and Director of Countryside Alliance Wales said the move away from sheep grazing could end up having devastating consequences.
She said: “The revelation that the chief executive’s future vision for the National Park is to have wind turbines and less sheep smacks of a real departure from the reality of the management of this working landscape. Less sheep will result in more, unmanaged vegetation which could in turn mean more, dangerous, wildfires.
“Like all fires, wildfires need three elements to live: oxygen, a heat source such as a lightning or a match, and fuel in the form of dry vegetation. Wildfires will travel to any place where there is an abundance of those elements and can spread rapidly with the help of wind. ”
She added: “Of course climate change will also mean more wildfires but the balance has to be recognised and this only fuels speculation about a supposedly anti-farming agenda by the National Park”.
On the decision to re-brand, Ms Evans said: “ It has obviously ruffled a few feathers in the countryside, not because the park have finally chosen to be known only as the Welsh name ‘Bannau Brycheiniog’ but the for the fact this this was not consulted upon with any of its inhabitants and the communities.
“For those of us lucky enough to live and work in this intricate managed landscape and who speak Welsh, it has more often than not always been referred to as “y Bannau Brycheiniog” and it is difficult to accept that this official name change is somehow revolutionary and new when in it has been its official name for us since the year dot.”
“Suggesting that the logo of a burning beacon somehow relates to some sort of incitement of wildfires is just ridiculous and has sparked an unnecessary row which could have been totally avoided. There is a feeling that, for some, the countryside is an experimental playground. It isn’t. The Welsh countryside is part of our identity of many it is vital quangos and park authorities consult on all changes”.
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