As generations of visitors will attest, the stunning vistas and hiking trails of the Brecon Beacons are just about perfect.
But it seems there is a catch. According to those in charge of managing the national park, the name alone has become a problem in these environmentally conscious times.
Apparently, the use of the word “beacons,” with its echoes of wood-burning braziers emitting carbon emissions, is so inconsistent with the area’s ethos that it had to go.
So from today the Brecon Beacons National Park will take on the Welsh name Bannau Brycheiniog National Park – pronounced Ban-eye Bruck-ein-iog – or Bannau for short.
The launch was explained in a video starring actor and activist Michael Sheen, who was born in Newport, South Wales, written by novelist Owen Sheers.
The top of Mount Cribyn as seen from Pen y Fan in Brecon Beacons National Park
Featuring images of waste, polluted water and wildfires, the clip describes the area as “addicted” to carbon, diesel, petrol and oil and suffering from an aging population as young people cannot afford local or well-paid housing. function.
Speaking of the new name, Sheen said: ‘I’m delighted to see them taking their challenges head on and welcoming the recovery of the old Welsh name, an old name for a new way of being.’
He added, “National parks play a vital role in providing nature, for people and for our shared future.”
Chief executive Catherine Mealing-Jones said: ‘As we try to provide leadership on decarbonisation, a giant burning brazier is not a good sight.’ Others, however, disagree – strongly.
Frank Furedi, a professor at the University of Kent, said changing the park’s name “will do nothing” for the environment.
He added: “They’re using the environment as a pretext to change the words we use, it’s not about the environment at all.”
Founder of the Free Speech Union, Toby Young, said: ‘It is typical of the numpties now governing Wales to sacrifice the name of its most famous national park to signal virtuously about climate change.’
Historically, beacons were signal fires built on high hills visible for miles and used to warn neighboring settlements of enemies. But it is unclear whether the Brecon Beacons were used for such a purpose.
Conservative MP Sir John Hayes told the Sun: ‘It’s nonsense. Once they invented fire, they burned wood. The people who make these decisions are out of touch.’
Sir Robert Goodwill, the Tory chairman of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs committee, told The Telegraph: “The next minute they’ll be renaming it Burns’ Night.”
He said place names like “Coalville” or “Blackburn” could be equally at risk if they are related to carbon emissions.
A stream in the Brecon Beacons National Park in Wales whose official name is changing
He added: ‘I think it’s more important to preserve historical names as part of our heritage. I had to check my calendar again when I heard this ridiculous suggestion to make sure it wasn’t April 1st.’
Brecon Beacons: a history dating back to the Middle Stone Age
The Brecon Beacons National Park in South Wales was established in 1957, under the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act of 1949.
The park has two purposes in law: to preserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the park; and to promote opportunities for the enjoyment and understanding of its special qualities.
Summit of Pen y Fan mountain, seen from Corn Du in the Brecon Beacons National Park
Going back to 5500 BC. During the Middle Stone Age, hunter-gatherers cut down scrub and burned the aftermath to create small grassland areas for animals to graze and hunt.
By the New Stone Age there had been agriculture and by the end of the Bronze Age there had been large clearings of forests.
In the Iron Age, Celtic peoples arrived and brought with them much better farming practices, including hill forts.
The Romans and Normans later conquered the area – consolidating the latter’s manor system into the Middle Ages.
From the late 15th century, industries such as iron making and charcoal burning began to emerge – while recent decades saw urban sprawl, road building and reservoir construction.
The national park area now covers 520 square miles, much of which is upland and two-thirds of the area is made up of ancient red sandstone cliffs.
The name will appear on all signage and promotional materials for the coming months, but people can choose which name they prefer to use.
Ms Mealing-Jones said: ‘We had always had the name Bannau Brycheiniog as a Welsh translation and we felt we should bring that to the forefront as an expression of how we wanted to celebrate the Welsh people, Welsh culture and Welsh food. , Farming in Wales – all the things that should come with us as we go through this change to the management plan.’
The name change is accompanied by a plan to restore tree cover, wetlands, hedgerows and wildflowers to attract wildlife while introducing local renewables such as small wind turbines.
People will be encouraged to farm in ways that benefit wildlife, such as limiting grazing to certain areas, leaving a cover crop for birds to eat during the winter, and not spreading manure or fertilizer where it could contaminate waterways.
Helen Roderick, the park’s sustainable development manager, said a group of six farmers is sharing hydrological maps with other farmers to help them avoid pollution.
She said: ‘It’s just simple measures, but things that are very effective. The other thing they’ve done is install weather stations on four or five of the farms.
“Those are open through an app to any farmer who wants to understand the rain, the wind, the soil conditions, to make sure that what they’re doing, they’re doing at the right time in the right weather conditions.”
Duncan Fisher, founder of Our Food 1200, a regenerative agriculture company, encourages growers to produce food for local markets.
He said there are currently 16 small-scale farms working together to build a more local food economy outside of the supermarket-dominated system, allowing growers to keep more of the profits.
“We are very excited about the idea that the farmers own the supply chains, or that all the money in the supply chain is local,” he said.
“That creates wealth, which creates the circulation of money, which creates the market. From the moment you start selling to a supermarket, it’s just very cruel.
‘The pressure on prices has decreased and that is why agriculture is having such a hard time because they are getting such bad prices. So one of our solutions is: let’s build a local system.’
The new plan launched today, on the 66th anniversary of the park’s national designation.
The Brecon Beacons is the latest location in Wales to be renamed.
Last year, Welsh language activists voted to rename the highest peak in England and Wales, Snowdon, Yr Wyddfa.
Following the 5,000-name petition, the Snowdonia National Park Authority agreed to also use the Welsh name for the 1,085 m (3,560 ft) peak in its English-language literature.
Critics at the time said the name change was “confusing” as the name Snowdon was known around the world.