In 2014 the Welsh Government commissioned an all-encompassing review of the Welsh National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Its primary purpose was to examine how they can adapt to meet the radically different challenges and conditions they now face compared to when they were first established. The final report’s overarching theme is that there needs to be fundamental change in institutional and inter-agency culture and working practices. Additionally, whilst conserving the natural beauty of the areas will still be of primary importance, one of the key proposals is to include an additional purpose of promoting ‘sustainable forms of economic and community development’. Therefore, there is likely to be tensions where these apparent contradictory purposes interact.
I will be examining these possible contestations, together with the practical consequences of specific changes, especially in relation to how Welsh identity is tied to the landscape and how this might differentiate Wales from other parts of the United Kingdom. An important aspect of the project is the partnership with Landscapes for Life and the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales. This access will allow me to obtain a unique perspective on the impact of the proposed changes on landscape governance.