Our special qualities

Each National Park has a unique character, and a key role of any National Park Management Plan is to define the essence of the place that makes it special and appealing, and worthy of protection. These are known as the Park’s ‘special qualities’ and form the key to it's designation.

Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons) National Park has ten defined special qualities grouped around landscape, community, experiences, and wildlife. Because these special qualities are often felt rather than rationally processed through statements of policy, we have asked local poets and artists to respond to the special qualities, to help speak to the emotive sense of what makes the Park special.

All National Parks, in the UK and indeed across the world are valued for the ‘beauty’ of their landscape, in Welsh we call this tir lun. Although ‘natural beauty’ is a term that is used often when talking about National Parks and landscapes, it is often very narrowly thought of as simply the picturesque, which in turn gives a generalised perception that National Parks exist to preserve the way an area looks, rather than also considering its underlying function.

Y Bannau: The Future takes a much broader definition of natural beauty ; one which encompasses a wide range of elements such as the presence of wildlife, cultural and heritage dimensions and perceptual elements not easily put into words. We also identify that our landscape is not ‘natural’ in the correct sense of the word. This place has been shaped and nurtured by people over millennia resulting in a landscape that owes its appearance to multiple human influences over millennia, including forest clearances, land enclosure, agriculture, drainage, forestry, religious practices, settlements, and water abstraction.

Our special qualities have been defined to give voice to the many elements of our Natural Beauty. We define these here to ensure that everyone understands what makes the Park so very special and worthy of national protection.

Natural Beauty

“Natural beauty”, when used both generally and specifically as in the 1949 National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act and other legislation, is a complex and multifaceted concept that is concerned with landscape in its broadest sense.

It relates primarily to unspoiled, but not necessarily extensive, rural landscapes that are largely free from the effects of disfiguring development or urbanisation. Although the legislation makes clear that it includes flora, fauna, geological and physiographic features, it applies not only to landscapes where nature is dominant but also to those which have been shaped and nurtured by human activities.

People perceive and appreciate “natural beauty” through all their senses, responding to many different aspects of the landscape, including its distinctive character its aesthetic qualities, the presence of wildlife, its cultural and historical dimensions and its perceptual qualities such as, for example, tranquility, remoteness and a sense of freedom. Perceptions of, and preferences for “natural beauty” are informed by people’s personal characteristics, cultural backgrounds and individual interests. “Natural beauty” occurs, to varying degrees, in many, though by no means all landscapes. Some places may, however, be judged to display “natural beauty” to an outstanding degree and may as a result be recognised as warranting a national level of protection.

Special Landscapes

Natural Beauty
Sweeping grandeur and outstanding natural beauty. The National Park’s sweeping grandeur and outstanding natural beauty observed across a variety of harmoniously connected landscapes, including marvelous gorges and waterfalls, classic karst geology with limestone pavement, caves and sink holes, contrasting glacial landforms such as cliffs and broad valleys carved from old red sandstone and prominent hilltops with extensive views in all directions. A landscape that provides a sense of time depth and timelessness.
Living Patterns
Contrasting patterns, colours and textures. A working, living “patchwork” of contrasting patterns, colours and textures comprising well-maintained farmed landscapes, open uplands, lakes and meandering rivers, punctuated by small-scale woodlands, country lanes, hedgerows and stone walls and scattered settlements. grouped around landscape, community, experiences and wildlife.
Rugged Landscapes
Rugged, remote and challenging in the context of the UK, geographically rugged, remote and challenging landscapes.

Special Communities

Sense of place and cultural identity
A sense of place and cultural identity - “Welshness” - characterised by the indigenous Welsh language, religious and spiritual connections, unique customs and events, traditional foods and crafts, relatively unspoilt historic towns and villages, family farms and continued practices of traditional skills developed by local inhabitants to live and earn a living here, such as common land practices and grazing.
Intimate sense of community
An intimate sense of community where small, pastoral towns and villages are comparatively safe, friendly, welcoming and retain a spirit of cooperation.

Special Experiences

Enjoyable and accessible
Peace, tranquillity, and darkness. A National Park offering, dark, night time skies, peace and tranquility with opportunities for quiet enjoyment, inspiration, relaxation and spiritual renewal.
Sounds, sights, smells and tastes
A feeling of vitality and wellbeing that comes from enjoying the National Park’s fresh air, clean water, rural setting, open land and locally produced foods.
Sense of discovery
A sense of discovery where people explore the National Park’s hidden secrets and stories such as genealogical histories, prehistoric ritual sites, relic medieval rural settlements, early industrial sites, local myths and legends and geological treasures from time immemorial.
Peace, tranquillity and darkness
A National Park offering, dark, night time skies, peace and tranquility with opportunities for quiet enjoyment, inspiration, relaxation and spiritual renewal.

Special Nature

Mosaic of diversity
The geology and climate vary greatly across the Park, creating an elaborate patchwork landscape rich in biodiversity. The Park hosts heathlands, grasslands and woodlands, with uplands and lowlands, natural lakes and riparian habitats. The Park contains limestone pavement and blanket bogs of international and national importance. Several endangered species survive in the Park, including some for which the Park is their furthest extent of their natural range.
Living Landscape
An abundance of wildlife thrives in semi-natural habitats that have been lived in and shaped by human settlement for millennia. The landscape is interlaced with ancient hedgerows bustling with life, enclosing wildlife-rich hay meadows, and primeval woodlands that cloak some steep-sided valleys. Veteran trees adorn the landscape, carrying the scars of centuries of changing dependency on their resources. Heather-dominated uplands maintained through grazing by horses, sheep and cattle are a testament to the intimate relationship between biodiversity and farming.