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?

Sunday, 20 June 2010

This week I attended the DDNPA Agricultural Stakeholders Meeting held at the National Park Visitor Centre , Libanus. If I was not already aware that all issues connected with this particular landscape where nothing but complex, this meeting re-enforced the point most succinctly. The farmers attending the meeting were treated to a power point presentation of the new land management scheme. Glastir replaces the existing agri-environment scheme, and will try to encourage more bio diversity on farms , whilst at the same time make farms seem more viable and attractive as a career (life style) choice of occupation.
It was obvious from the many farmers who contributed to the discussion, that they had serious concerns about their ability to fulfil these tasks, working with an ageing and diminishing population(within the farming community).

On Friday I spent time with groups of young people who live , work or study in the area around Brecon. These young people were learning useful trades such as building and carpentry. I also spoke to young car mechanics and hair and beauty therapists ,all from Coleg Powys. Australia was a frequently mentioned destination to emigrate to once they had qualified. Many of these young people had never walked on the hills, for many the natural landscape that surrounds them is irrelevant.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Large areas of bracken push grazing animals into smaller more concentrated areas to feed , this can lead to land poaching. Nardus and Molinea grass also have the same effect on grazing stock, these grasses are also very flamable. Common fires cause soil erosion allowing heavy rain fall to wash unprotected top soil away. Bracken, molinea and Nardus grass establish themselves in these burnt areas, thus reducing the biodiversity of the area.
On Thursday I met someone from the Welsh Water Drinking Water Safety Plan. We talked about particular difficulties that have been highlighted over the past 2 to 3 years, concerning the area of land around the Cantref Reservoir and its feeder rivers. An increase in the occurrence of very high rain fall over comparative short periods of time  since 2008, have resulted in the filtration systems at Cantref shutting down as they struggle to cope with the increased sedimentation in the water arriving at the plant. The Nant Crew and the Afon Taff Fawr are significant contributors to the high colour and sediment content of the reservoir. Land slippage has also occurred resulting in the loss of farmland. Farming practice and land management will play an important role if these problems are to be at least limited if not completely eradicated.

A Catchment Management Strategy is being put forward to try and build a unified approach to tackling the problem. I would like to hear from anyone who has anecdotal evidence of land loss due to slippage. Or have you been caught up on the hills walking or working, during one of these heavy rainfall events? Maybe you lost your water supply or received discoloured water over several days? Simply click the comments button to add you contribution to this blog.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Today, Sunday I went out with the Honddu Dippers, a group of people who give freely their own time to clear up the litter and rubbish of others. This group focuses on the canal and the Rivers Usk and Honddu that run through the town of Brecon. In two hours the group collected 6 bags of rubbish, consisting mostly of drinks containers and take away food packaging. They also collected a skate board, a bike, a 5 litre plastic container full of paint and a range of metal objects. Asked if they felt the community at large were either shamed by their activities, of at least showed some level of gratitude, the group consensus was no. The general public where more likely to see them as people carrying out some sort of community service, or simply council workers who were, after all, paid to clear up after them.

Last Friday I met Susan, a farmer living and working a small farm just outside of Brecon. Susan is at the beginning of her 8th  decade and now only runs a small flock of sheep, each of whom has a name and a character known and understood by Susan. Her oldest ewe Daisy May is still enjoying life at 17 years of age. Alongside this small flock of sheep are ducks, geese, dogs, cats and horses. In addition there is a garden area containing a very wide variety of trees and shrubs including two red woods and Panda quality Bamboo . At the top of her farm land is a mixed wood containing some very fine Oaks, Water Alder, and Silver Birch. Susan has rights to run her sheep on the hills but says lack of grass means that the sheep ware down their teeth and this shortens there life expectancy to around 7 years of age.

Susan has applied for a preservation order to be placed on her barns and oak trees but this request has been declined because amongst other things, she is there to look after them. Susan is 80 and wants to know that after she has gone the trees won’t be grubbed up and the barns turned into a holiday home complex. She wants some form of assurance that the fine oaks will be allowed to stay and the, barns will be allowed to stay keeping their welsh barn -ness, something that is rapidly disappearing from the countryside.

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