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'Tranquillity' is a key motivator in attracting visitors to the UK's Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), and a key component of these areas' special qualities. This means that managing organisations must ensure that development is sensitive to ecological, social and economic interests.  In order to conserve and enhance tranquililty in these IUCN Category V protected areas, it is critical to fully understand what the term means. However, defining and then interpreting tranquillity into practice is complex. It is a perceptual concept, so definitions are varied and personal.

The Broadly Engaging with Tranquillity (BET) project explored people's views though a number of focus groups, an extensive household survey and number of visitor onsite surveys in key tourist locations in the Purbecks and along its coastline. The case study area concerned the landscape of the Dorset AONB, southern England and integrates with the seascape of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. The project results from a collaborative partnership comprised of academics and practitioners led by Winchester University with the Dorset AONB Team and staff at Dorset County Council, with funding provided by the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

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This most recent study on tranquillity demonstrated that fundamentally anything manmade and of modern origin detracted from tranquillity, whereas tranquil spaces were enhanced by natural views, sounds and experiences. Yet what was especially notable was the distinctive views amongst residents, visitors to the area, in comparison with representatives from local government offices and managing agencies for the area. Further information on these and other findings can be found in the following freely accessible article:

Hewlett, D., Harding L., Munro, T., Terradillos, A., Wilkinson, K. 2016. Broadly engaging with tranquillity in protected landscapes: A matter of perspective identified in GIS. Landscape and Urban Planning 158, February 2017. pp. 185-201.

Additional studies based on this project are being progressed in other areas of England and in the United States.  The study is also contributing to data required in health and wellbeing studies being progressed in green spaces.

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For further information on this project, its research stages and subsequent activities, please contact Dr. Denise Hewlett FRGS, Principal Researcher

In a national survey commissioned by the Campaign to Protect Rural England, respondants perceived "seeing the stars at night" as one of the top 10 factors that contributes to their sense of experiencing tranquillity when they visit the countryside.

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