New partnership launches ambitions for first University of a National Park

Posted on 13 Jan 2023

Today, 12 January, the Bannau Brycheiniog National Park and Black Mountains College announced a new partnership that aims to provide a ground-breaking model of holistic climate adaptation throughout the Park’s landscape.

In the presence of Julie James MS, Minister for Climate Change, the two organisations signed a memorandum of understanding, a historic moment for both parties, for Wales, and the world. The alignment of both organisations’ values and ambitions makes the partnership a natural fit, and one that marks the first steps towards Europe’s inaugural University of a National Park.

The climate and ecological emergencies represent a clear and present danger to the health and well-being of all life within the National Park and beyond. Dramatic changes at all levels of our society and economy are required to mitigate, reverse and adapt to climate breakdown and biodiversity loss. The coming impacts will require constant learning and collaboration as the world continually adapts to changing circumstances and horizons.

The partnership will deliver vocational learning pathways, citizen-science, research projects and public education on climate breakdown and climate adaptation in line with Article 12 of the Paris Treaty.

Catherine Mealing-Jones, Chief Executive of the National Park, said, “In the Bannau Brycheiniog we are amplifying our efforts to tackle the biggest challenges of our age. Our new management plan will launch in April. It is unashamedly ambitious, with a long-term plan for the next twenty-five years. Our partnership with the College will accelerate its realisation.”

Ben Rawlence, Chief Executive of Black Mountains College, said “We’re delighted to be working with the National Park to mitigate and adapt to the huge changes unfolding. Re-establishing our connection to nature needs to happen in nature, and what better classroom than the beautiful Bannau Brycheiniog!”

Minister for Climate Change Julie James said, “It is a great pleasure to see a partnership blossom today between Bannau Brycheiniog National Park and Black Mountains College. This pairing of knowledge, creativity and practical application through the talents and training of our young people will nurture fresh ideas as we face the climate and nature emergencies. We cannot tackle climate change and biodiversity loss in isolation. Partnerships such as this show how we all need to come together to face our challenges not just in the Bannau Brycheiniog, but across the world. National Parks cover 20% of our land area and ensuring these are ‘nature positive’ will have a huge impact on what our future Wales will look like. I’m excited to see the work of this partnership and all of its students in action.”

Climate change is changing life as we know it. The legal frameworks established through the Paris Treaty, the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the Kunming-Montreal Global biodiversity framework, the UK Climate Change Act (2008), the Well-Being of Future Generations Act (Wales, 2015) and others provide the mandate and duty for all stakeholders to act. The Bannau Brycheiniog National Park and Black Mountains College are committed acting as leaders in climate adaptation and, by working together, will deliver on this most vital of duties.

For more information about the Bannau Brycheiniog National Park, please visit For more information about Black Mountains College, please visit