Our natural environment can be defined as all the living and non-living things, and the systems and interactions which occur between them, which occur naturally within our environment. It would include the biodiversity, habitats and ecosystems that provide us with the clean air and water which we require for our continued existence, as well as the natural resources we as humans use every day in order to grow food, build houses and create electricity to name but a few examples.
In contrast to the built environment, our natural environments comprise of areas and components that have not been strongly influenced by humans. Due to the vast human influence we now see around us, it has become increasingly difficult, if not impossible, to find a totally natural environment here on Earth. Whilst some environments may remain more natural than others, some would argue that humans have influenced all of our natural environments to some degree or another.
Rhododendron clearance work in Nant Gwynant (© SNPA)
In Snowdonia, we are blessed with a rich variety of semi-natural environments, shaped by humans over several millennia to create the landscape we see around us today. First created following the 1949 National Park and Access to the Countryside Act, a study to identify boundaries for the National Park began in 1950, resulting in the boundary we have today. The criterion for inclusion in the Park was outstanding scenic beauty, which led to the exclusion of the slate production areas and some urban developments. Snowdonia National Park came into existence on the 18th of October 1951. It was the third National Park to be designated in Britain, and the first in Wales. Today, Snowdonia is one of 15 National Parks in Britain. Later, Snowdonia National Park became an independent Authority, who’s main purposes is to:
- Conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the area;
- Promote opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of the Park by the public;
- We also have a duty to seek to foster the economic and social well being of local communities within the Park.