In the 21st century what is meant by a “natural landscape”? What is it that makes a landscape special? How do the people who live, work and play in a particular area relate to It? What part do these landscapes play in the lives of those who live in more urban environments?

In the event of changes to the landscape brought about by significant climate change, how will people respond to any measures taken to help protect that landscape and its possible uses?

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Scientific look at the landscape:

Waun Figen Felen (SN823178) contains a large expanse of exposed peat. There are different theories to explain how the erosion started. However none of these account for the way in which almost all the vegetation has been stripped or fatally damaged in a single event, such as fire, and then subsequently exacerbated by causes such as grazing, wind and rain erosion. A peat bog operates like a living organism. A healthy blanket bog has a symbiotic relationship with the rich and diverse flora and fauna that inhabit it and help to keep it operating efficiently. A healthy peat bog stores carbon.

In contrast a weak and sickly peat bog is not in balance and invasive species take up the space once occupied by the sphagnum moss, cotton grass and other rich and diverse species. Molinia is a golden grass that in some areas is so dominant; it now seems to give large areas of the hills their colour and texture. This grass is also a highly inflammable material. A peat bog on fire releases masses of carbon back into the atmosphere and so the damage is doubled.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Elan Valley

Elan Village

The sun was shining as I left Worcester, but by the time I arrived at Llanwrthwl Church the cloud was down and there was a steady light drizzle. I had arranged to meet a National Park Warden in order to find out a little about the job of a warden and what the work entailed.

As we started to climb up along the side of the Elan valley and out onto the top, the cloud rolled in and out and on and off the tops of the hills until gradually lifting to reveal patches of blue sky and warm sun.

We visited a blanket bog where work was underway to try to slow down the deterioration of the site. This was on a much smaller scale to the work being undertaken at Craig-y-nos. Whilst the bog was still holding water, and contained large patches of healthy bright green sphagnum moss, there was also evidence of dry peat and deeper gullies. The peat bog on top of the hill has always moved, but sometime during the last hundred years the sides have blown out causing the subsidence and exposure of bare peat. This problem has been worsened by fires at different times and the combined effect has been to allow more invasive species to take hold and therefore unsettle the fine balance of life within the bog.

Walking through this landscape even to my untrained eye it was apparent that there was a richer diversity of insect life, lichens mosses and grasses on this great expanse of protected land. Protected by people but not inhabited by them, one or two ancient cairns still survive to mark the way for the occasional walker, but mostly this is a landscape without people.

I had met my guide in the morning for the first time, a young woman half my age. As we walked, we talked, looked and learnt about each other and our understanding of the world we are living in. This for me is the essence of what a good walk does.

Quote from the walk

“Things that evolve over a short period of time tend to die out very quickly, but things that last, evolve over millions of years. In 10 thousand years of civilisation I can’t believe our brains have changed that much, we are not that different from those people 6 thousand years ago, it is just that we have advanced the technology……..”

Thursday, 13 May 2010

1st Entry

The health of the grassess is a very imortant issue.

This is the first blog of the Change, Climate Landscape, Me, project and I do hope that lots of people feel interested enough to add comments to the site. I want to hear from those who have an interest in the area of Brecon, not just those connected to the landscape; or those who have specialist interests in the natural environment, climate change or even art, but obviously their contributions are also most welcome.

I am interested to hear from as many people as possible including members of the Armed Forces who only stay in the area for brief period’s of time before moving on to meet new tasks and challenges. I would also like to hear from those who, from one generation to the next, have never lived anywhere else.

I would like to hear from those people who would like to change things, who feel that life in the Brecon area could be improved. What do young people do? Do they feel involved in the community across all ages or do they feel a little disenfranchised?

Since the project got underway at the beginning of May I have spoken to individuals from the National Trust; volunteer groups; graziers; and people from the National Parks I have found all these meetings very interesting. I have learnt something about the complexities associated with the business of looking after the natural landscape. There are obviously very different and sometimes quite conflicting concerns connected to general issues as well as specific geographic areas.

I look forward to talking to and sharing information with anyone who is interested in getting involved, whoever you are and wherever you are from.