National Park context

The Brecon Beacons National Park is one of a family of fifteen National Parks in the UK.  Unlike many of our global partners that share our designation’s namesake, UK National Parks are not wildernesses, rather we are working, living landscapes with the interaction between people and nature at our core. To put us in a global context we are a Category V Protected Landscape as defined by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) – A protected area where the interaction of people and nature over time has produced an area of distinct character with significant ecological, biological, cultural and scenic value: and here safeguarding the integrity of this interaction is vital to protecting and sustaining the area and its associated nature conservation and other values. 

As a UK National Park Authority, it is our job to ensure that the landscapes in our care are managed sustainably for the quiet enjoyment of all.  To do this, the Welsh government, our governing body, bestows two statutory purposes and a duty upon us. Our first purpose is to protect the environment and its assets.  Our second purpose is to connect people with the natural and cultural environments for their enjoyment and wellbeing. Our duty looks to how our communities function within the Park to ensure their socio-economic success. The National Park caters to multiple needs including the natural environment, culture and local communities. To do this we must balance the competing demands of our two purposes.

 It is no secret that human contact with nature often comes at a cost to our natural world. As an organisation we must walk the line between our two purposes, finding a safe space in which people can enjoy thriving ecosystems without negative impact.   We have adapted Kate Raworth’s ‘doughnut’ model of social and ecological boundaries to help us break down the complexity of our purposes and duty.   We chose this model because it envisions a world in which people and planet can thrive in balance, just like we envision a Park where the environment and people work together to provide a landscape for national wellbeing.

Creating a Park Doughnut

Our Park Doughnut is adapted to the unique circumstances of our status as a UK National Park.  We see it as a framework for successful implementation of our purposes and duty, combined with a set of measurable policy goals for success.  

For us the social foundation relates to our socio-economic duty; no one living within the boundary of the National Park should be disadvantaged by the designation and our park will only thrive if our communities do too.

The outer ecological ceiling represents our first purpose to conserve and enhance the environment (ecological and cultural) of the Naitonal Park; drawing this as a ceiling allows us to clearly signify the environmental capacity of the Park and the impacts of moving beyond this ceiling.

The space at the core of the doughnut formed from these two boundaries helps us understand the shifts that are needed in order for us to provide an arena for human enjoyment (our second purpose) that is both ecologically safe and socially just.  It also reminds us that in providing this service we run the risk of breaching boundaries ourselves.  

We have put the Park Doughnut at the core of our new Management Plan for the area, Future Beacons, as a framework to define our future action towards the safe and just space. The targets/indicators set for our Park Doughnut will help us monitor our success (or otherwise).
 

Next steps

 In moving forward, we will use the doughnut with our stakeholders to communicate about the state of the Park and use it as a compass to steer us towards a just and safe future.   We will also be working with our research partnerships to think about the global lens and find meaningful ways of communicating about the Park’s global impact (both positive and negative).

We are also excited to bring the doughnut to our communities and help them draw their own to empower them towards taking transformative action at the local level.

If you want to know more you can contact the team on npmp21@beacons-npa.gov.uk 

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