The Wales project is focused on the sustainable management of the cultural landscape of the Arfon area, which lies in the county of Gwynedd in north Wales. It will build on the current programme of historic landscape characterisation, presently being carried out in. The project aims at involving local communities in defining, mapping and caring for what they consider important about their local cultural landscapes and what contributes to the perception of regional identity and a sense of place. This input will complement and provide a balance to the traditional specialist, academic approach to this process.
The Trust intends to develop a methodology for involving the public in the interpretation and conservation of their own local cultural landscapes, using the slate valleys and rural communities of northern Gwynedd as a model. This will involve a series of steps including canvassing public opinion, focus groups and mail-shots, so that a picture can be built up (based on geographical areas and recorded in a GIS) of how people at a local level perceive their landscapes, what is important about them and how they want to see them evolve in the future. Members of the community will be encouraged to contribute detail to ‘community maps’ emphasising what they regard as important in defining their community, in contrast to how it is perceived from outside.
This will be done in a number of ways through ‘physical pathways’ such as books, exhibitions, guidance, leaflets, trails, guided walks, DVD-Rom, and web pages. It will also be important to establish a series of footpaths and cycle routes, supplemented by explanatory leaflets and linked to existing museums and centres providing off-site interpretation, so that people can experience these cultural landscapes first-hand.
All the relevant information will be posted on the world wide web so that it will be available to everyone with web access. This web site will also be reproduced and distributed as a DVD-ROM to local schools, community groups and other interested people. Linked to this will be the production of a high-quality publication describing the development of the cultural landscape in the area, the principal aims of which will be to propose a future management strategy for the landscapes in the area which will be fully integrated with other environmental concerns (including sustainability); to carry a set of guidelines; and to put forward a series of proposals as to how the cultural landscape can give added value to landowners (for example through agri-environmental schemes), local businesses and the economy.
This booklet will be supported by a seminar and a series of lectures on cultural landscapes, their management and their use in economic ventures which will be given to local landowners, land managers, planners, and people interested in establishing (or developing) local businesses. These will be delivered by both "professionals" and members of the public who have been involved in the exercise.