The Broadly Engaging With Tranquillity, Easy & Refined (BETER) 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 Isle of Purbeck. The results of this unique and groundbreaking study have supported Dorset’s authorities in their management of Dorset’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty  (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 has improved the process of surveying tranquillity for any space - urban, rural, coastal, or even countywide, 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.

BETER has resulted from a collaborative project with Keene State College, New Hampshire, U.S. Through taking the original data from Broadly Engaging with Tranquility (BETP), and processing in ArCGIS with script to automate processes in Python coding, BETER can provide for tranquillity surveys for any space - urban, rural, coastal, or even countywide, in one day.

                                     

This advancement in producing quantifiable maps of the non-material qualities of greenspaces, has dramatically reduced the costs of running extensive public consultations and processing GIS layers required to evaluate and depict extensive areas of green/blue spaces: in our original research, these processes cost £100,000 and took two years from start to completion!.

New applications of BETER are currently being evaluated with our UK team of researchers to facilitate:

  • scenario planning services: evaluating the effects on tranquillity and peoples landscape experiences caused by the impacts of climate change

  • evaluations of protected areas and designated landscapes according to how their ‘natural beauty’ is interpreted by people

  • to determine how people living with long-term illness or chronic medical conditions experience greenspaces and seeking their views, on how access and activities in greenspaces might be enhanced to improve their experiences in our urban parks and in our countryside

  • the potential of translating BETER and its applications from ArcGIS into QGIS: a freely available GIS software system. QBETER will be made available for QGIS users in local authorities, community groups and to charitable concerns, free of charge.

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.

 

Should you wish to have BETER run in your area, please contact Denise Hewlett on 07515191366 or by email denise.hewlett@winchester.ac.uk.  All you need to do is supply the GIS layers and we will do the rest!

 

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Tranquil and non tranquil spaces in BETER ArcGIS for Dorset County (November 2019)

“When we are unable to find tranquility within ourselves, it is useless to seek it elsewhere.” Francois de La Rochefoucauld