Dark Sky Reserve
Why Light Pollution Matters (the ecological impacts of artificial night-time light)
Kevin Gaston is Professor of Biodiversity & Conservation at University of Exeter. In May 2022 he presented an online session especially for Exmoor National Park (International Dark Sky Reserve) suitable for anyone interested in gaining a better understanding of why light pollution matters.
The last 100 years have seen the dramatic spread of an evolutionarily unprecedented environmental change. Across huge areas, the patterns and cycles of light and dark that had previously remained approximately constant, have been disrupted by the introduction of artificial night-time lights from streetlights and other sources. Longstanding concerns about the implications for scientific astronomy and aesthetic enjoyment of the night sky have been joined in recent years by growing awareness of potential effects of artificial night-time light on human health, ecological processes and ecosystem services.
Hear from Professor Gaston how spread of artificial night-time light raises major biological concerns given that light and dark provide critical resources and environmental conditions for organisms and play key roles in their physiology, growth, behaviour and reproduction, including our own biological clocks. As predicted, such impacts on individual organisms also have profound consequences for the structure and functioning of populations and communities.
We are extremely proud to have been designated the very first International Dark Sky Reserve in Europe in 2011.
We have some of the darkest skies in the country - visit this link to see a light pollution map of the UK and you'll see us down in the south west and just how dark the skies above Exmoor National Park are compared to other areas.
The map above shows Exmoor's Dark Sky Reserve core area of darkness (meeting minimum criteria for sky quality and natural darkness), and a peripheral area that supports dark sky preservation in the core.
An International Dark Sky Reserve is a 'land possessing an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and nocturnal environment that is specifically protected for its scientific, natural, educational, cultural, heritage and/or public enjoyment'. Reserves are designated by the International Dark Skies Association following a rigorous application process. Further details about our designation, including links to our application and lighting management plan, can be found on the International Dark Skies Association website.
For some national guidance on lighting and understanding light pollution including advice for Exmoor businesses and domestic users read Towards a Dark Sky Standard here.
Dark Sky Places Annual Report
We work with our partners to celebrate and protect our dark skies as a unique special quality of Exmoor. Each year we report of the International Dark Sky Association on our progress to promote and protect Exmoor’s beautiful dark night time skies.
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