The IDA, a nonprofit organization fighting to preserve the night sky, has announced Dwr Cymru Welsh Water's Elan Valley Estate as the first privately-owned International Dark Sky Park.
Dwr Cymru Welsh Water's Elan Valley Estate in Powys, Wales, has achieved International Dark Sky Park status and become the first privately owned, but publicly accessible park in the world to do so.
The silver-tier status granted by the International Dark-Sky Association means that the 45,000-acre estate is protected against light pollution for the benefit of those who live, work and visit, and for the abundance of wildlife and vegetation found there.
Over 200 light readings were taken at 13 sites over a 22-month period to demonstrate that the Estate would fit the criteria for this status. Analysis of the data revealed that the Estate "possessed exceptional starry skies and natural nocturnal habitat where light pollution is mitigated and natural darkness is valuable as an important educational, cultural, scenic, and natural resource" - one of the primary conditions for granting International Dark Sky Park status.
Ed Parsons, area lands manager for Dwr Cymru Welsh Water, said: "I'm very excited that our spectacular night sky has been recognised by the International Dark Sky Association. This global recognition is testament to the hard work of our rangers and voluntary astronomers, without whom this would not have been possible. I would also like to thank the Elan Valley Trust for their support from the beginning of this process. We will continue to work in partnership with them and local residents to protect and enhance this feature of the Estate and welcome visitors to experience a truly dark sky at night."
IDA Executive Director J. Scott Feierabend said: "Today IDA takes a major step forward in dark skies conservation by welcoming the Elan Valley as the first-ever privately owned International Dark Sky Park. Moving into the realm of private land conservation significantly extends the reach of protections for the natural nighttime environment."
The Elan Valley International Dark Sky Park will now embark on plans to further improve light wastage within the park, and to improve facilities for astronomers at several locations across the Estate.
To find out more about the events run by the volunteer astro-rangers at the Estate, visit the Elan Valley Estate website at www.elanvalley.org.uk.
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