Making our countryside, parks and coastal areas even BETER

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About the project

British landscapes and coastlines are renowned for their special qualities. Amongst these, tranquillity ranks as a key reason for people to visit green/blue spaces. Whether we seek relaxation, exercise, or simply to escape stressful lives, tranquil environments are generally considered to enhance our health and wellbeing.

Tranquillity in urban parks, the countryside, nature reserves and along our coastlines is therefore worthy of protection in national planning policies. Yet protection implies that tranquillity is something that can be managed by authorities, meaning they need to understand what it looks and feels like in the areas under their management. This is a challenge - perceptions of tranquillity are related to personal experiences and perceptions at a given time and in a given place. So how do authorities capture, plan, manage and monitor something as ambiguous and subjective as tranquillity?

Recent collaborative research, led by the University between 2013 and 2015 through the Broadly Engaging with Tranquillity Project (BETP), conducted extensive public consultation in Dorset into how tranquillity is experienced by authorities representatives, residents and visitors to the Purbecks. The results of this unique and groundbreaking study have supported Dorset’s authorities in their management of Dorset’s AONB, and have been transferred for use in other counties and in other protected areas.

The BETP project was so successful that the research team aimed to replicate this research on a wider scale, broadening it out across both a wider area and a wider range of environments. The Broadly Engaging with Tranquillity, Easy and Refined (BETER) Project will do precisely that, and more. BETER arises from a collaborative project with Keene State College, U.S that has improved the process of surveying tranquillity for any space - urban, rural, coastal, or even county-wide, to just two weeks. BETER’s results will greatly enhance local authorities’ decision-making in strategic planning, managing impacts from climate change, economic developments, tourism promotion and conservation management.

For more information, contact the Principal Investigator, Prof. Denise Hewlett. Find out more about Prof. Denise Hewlett.

BETER is funded by the University of Winchester through the Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF), 2017-18.