Black Mountains Ambassadors

MOTIVATED ambassadors are helping drive forward a £1m project in the Black Mountains to protect, improve and enhance the countryside for people from all walks of life to enjoy.

The final session of Black Mountains Land Use Partnership Mountain and Moorlands Ambassador training programme ended with participants eager to drive forward ideas to protect the working landscape in the region for future generations.

The Ambassador training programme saw scores of tourism business providers coming together during three tailored sessions, to better understand the challenges faced by everyone involved in protecting the mountainous region.

As part of the partnership initiative, ambassadors met with project staff, local landowners and graziers to gain a better perspective of the situations they face when managing the land.

The Black Mountains Land Use Partnership is currently delivering a £1m Sustainable Management Scheme (SMS) project. This project has received funding through the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government. It brings together all those involved in managing the Black Mountains, including local land owners and graziers, and The Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Authority, Natural Resources Wales, Welsh Water and Natural England.

Black Mountains Land Use Partnership ’s Project Administrator, Dr Louise Moon, attended the sessions supported and delivered by the National Park Authority’s Sustainable Tourism Team and Gareth Kiddie Associates, a multi-disciplinary consultancy that works with and for communities.

“The feedback we received will help shape ideas for managing the land use as the project progresses into its final year,” said Dr Moon. “Those who joined us found meeting with graziers and landowners gave a clearer picture of the realities and differing situations they face. They were able to empathise with each other better and discovered that everyone had a shared goal of wanting to protect, enhance and improve the living and working landscape of the Black Mountains.”

The Ambassador programme was held over several days, with speakers from Cadw, The Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Authority and the
Black Mountains Land Use Partnership discussing topics such as sites of archaeological and historical importance, the geology and biodiversity of the mountains and the impact tourism can have on land use.

Two site visits were arranged, one to Table Mountain and another to a local farm, where ambassadors were given an insight into bracken control, peatland restoration, grazing and uplands management, as well as visiting areas of the region they may never have explored before.

Phil Stocker, Black Mountains Land Use Partnership Chair, said the ambassador programme helps to give local businesses the tools and information to communicate messages about the special qualities of the Black Mountains and what visitors can do to help us look after the area for everyone to enjoy.

He said: “Achieving a balance that meets the needs of graziers, tourism providers and landowners, while at the same time protecting the landscape for future generations can only be done through collaboration.

“Positively engaging with local businesses through the ambassador programme helps the partnership to develop a deeper understanding of the communities, the environment and the economies that underpin these types of landscapes that visitors find so attractive.

“Ultimately, we have a shared goal to promote the area as a destination, while at the same time protecting and enhancing the Black Mountains to positively benefit those who live and work here.” For more information on the Black Mountains Land Use Partnership contact Dr Louise Moon