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England: tranquillity maps

Friday, October 27, 2006
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What a lovely idea - the BBC reported recently that the Campaign to Protect Rural England has produced detailed national and regional "tranquillity maps" covering all parts of England.

The CPRE explained that the researchers they commissioned to help compile the maps "used a nationwide survey to test what tranquillity means to people and their perceptions of what factors were most likely to add to and to detract from their sense of experiencing tranquillity when they visited the countryside. Secondly, using a Geographical Information Systems (GIS) model, they associated the survey information with a range of national datasets and took account of topography to create a map showing how likely each locality was to make people feel tranquil."

What tranquillity is – the top 10 survey responses

  1. Seeing a natural landscape
  2. Hearing birdsong
  3. Hearing peace and quiet
  4. Seeing natural looking woodland
  5. Seeing the stars at night
  6. Seeing streams
  7. Seeing the sea
  8. Hearing natural sounds
  9. Hearing wildlife
  10. Hearing running water.

What tranquillity is not – the top 10 survey responses

  1. Hearing constant noise from cars, lorries and/or motorbikes
  2. Seeing lots of people
  3. Seeing urban development
  4. Seeing overhead light pollution
  5. Hearing lots of people
  6. Seeing low flying aircraft
  7. Hearing low flying aircraft
  8. Seeing power lines
  9. Seeing towns and cities
  10. Seeing roads.
You can see the maps, check your area's local tranquillity scores and read two reports on the mapping methodology and the campaign to save tranquil places. The CPRE are trying to promote the protection of tranquillity in the face of increasing urbanisation - more power to them, I say.

They're even selling a CD of tranquil sounds (MP3 samples are on their site, with recordings of birdsong, wind, waves etc to help soothe you - though I must say the sound of buzzing bees one is more likely to make me want to run and hide!), recorded with the help of the Wildlife Sound Recording Society.

It would be ironic if the tranquillity maps enabled people to rush to their nearby top tranquillity spots to enjoy the peace and quiet - thus increasing items 1, 2 and 5 of the "what tranquillity is not" list! Let's hope not...

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