Blaenavon was inscribed as a World Heritage Site in 2000 in recognition of the part it played in the early development of the iron and coal industry in South Wales. While the heavy industry has now gone, the landscape still bears testament to its former existence through historic sites such as the Blaenavon Ironworks and the Big Pit coal mine, monumental spoil heaps that still dominate the valley, disused transport corridors and workers settlements with their rows of housing, schools and community centres.
The Landscape Partnership scheme extended beyond the boundary of the World Heritage Site (WHS) and will create a better understood and more sensitively managed landscape that will act as a buffer zone around the WHS.
The project delivered activities over four and a half years to safeguard the natural and cultural heritage in and around Blaenavon. Local people were encouraged to engage with the landscape in new ways to help change their perceptions of the area and its former industrial heritage. Challenges included tackling anti-social behaviour and crime in the area, finding ways to achieve better management of the uplands and building capacity to support local people through volunteering. The scheme has helped to integrate the WHS with the wider surrounding landscape, not only in physical terms through improved physical access, but also through interpreting the landscape and its often forgotten heritage.
The scheme has had a positive impact on partnership working in the area. It has helped stakeholders deliver their aims in more efficient, strategic and creative ways, with better working relationships between staff in different organisations.
As a direct result of the Forgotten Landscapes scheme, a buffer zone is now being considered for the WHS.