The Brecon Beacons national park is losing its English name, with its bosses saying the area will now be known by its Welsh name Bannau Brycheiniog.
The park authority says the name is more appropriate for its heritage.
The name translates as the Peaks of Brychan’s Kingdom, with Bannau being the plural of ban, while Brycheiniog denoting the ancient kingdom ruled over by Brychan.
The park’s former name derived from the town of Brecon, sometimes anglicised to Brecknock from the Welsh Brycheiniog.
An authority spokesperson said: “With the central Beacons mountain range covering a small proportion of the park’s geography, and history showing no evidence that burning beacons ever existed on the park’s summits, it was felt the area warranted a title more in keeping with its Welsh heritage.”
Park bosses helpfully supplied a guide for non-Welsh speakers, with the new name pronounced Ban-eye Bruck-ein-iog, with the shortened Bannau used informally. The change, along with a series of environmental projects, was announced on the 66th anniversary of the park’s establishment.
The schemes, in partnership with organisations in the area, will attempt to halt and reverse the impact of climate change in the 520 square-mile park.
Bannau Brycheiniog national park chief executive Catherine Mealing-Jones said: “With four-million-plus visitors to the Bannau each year, we know we can’t put a fence around nature – we have to be proactive.
“Our new management plan tackles climate change head on as we transition to net zero by 2035. Action will be happening across the Bannau to restore nature’s ability to capture carbon from the atmosphere.
“We want to create thriving and sustainable places celebrated for their cultural and natural heritage. If we get this right, Bannau Brycheiniog can be an exemplar for other national parks to follow.
“Reclaiming our old name reflects our commitment to the Welsh language, but we understand people are used to calling the park by the name everyone’s used for 66 years so we don’t expect everyone to use Bannau Brycheiniog, at least straight away.”
The park includes the highest peak in south Wales, Pen y Fan, at 886m (2,907ft). The Black Mountains extend east towards the border with England while, confusingly, the Black Mountain range lies in the west of the area.
The authority unveiled plans for 6,000 ha of peatland restoration; a million new trees being planted; water quality improvement, including getting rivers to bathing-water quality standard across the park; a focus on sustainable farming for an improved local food economy; curlew population recovery; the creation of wildlife corridors to link habitats.
There are also projects planned for floodplains to hold water, encouraging diverse plants to thrive in order to store both carbon and nutrients, along with sustainable transport schemes, including park-and-ride pilots between Merthyr Tydfil and Brecon.
Welsh actor Michael Sheen helped to launch the plan. He said: “National parks have a vital role to play in providing for nature, for people, and for our shared future. Bannau Brycheiniog national park provides so much more than beauty and inspiration.
“They are invested in providing a fair and sustainable future for all, with a plan that has nature at its heart that aims to ensure society’s needs are met within our planetary boundaries.
“It marks a step-change in the way national parks can operate. I’m delighted to see them facing their challenges head-on and welcome the reclamation of the old Welsh name – an old name for a new way of being.”
The move follows Snowdonia National Park Authority’s decision to use the Welsh names Eryri for the park and Yr Wyddfa for Snowdon, the highest peak in Wales.
Naomi Jones, head of cultural heritage at the authority said: “Many public bodies across Wales have moved to use both the Welsh and English names, or the Welsh name only, when referring to Yr Wyddfa and Eryri, as have many of the mainstream English-language press and filming companies.
“This is very encouraging, and gives us confidence that this change in the authority’s approach will be accepted for the benefit of the Welsh language and as a mark of respect to our cultural heritage.
“We have historic names in both languages, but we are eager to consider the message we wish to convey about place names, and the role they have to play in our current cultural heritage by promoting the Welsh language as one of the national park’s special qualities.
“By referring to our most renowned landmarks by their Welsh names we give people from all over the world the opportunity to engage with the Welsh language and its rich culture.”
Andy Halliday is a passionate outdoor enthusiast and an avid camper. He has been exploring the wilderness and camping in the great outdoors for over two decades, and his experiences have inspired him to write about the joys of camping and the beauty of nature.
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