Following the bid by Presteigne in Powys to become recognised as the first Dark Sky Community in Wales, is it really feasible that Wales as a whole, could become a Dark Sky Nation? 

Great progress toward preserving the Welsh night skies has already been made and as a result, the nation is in prime position to develop even more sites and possibly, eventually, realise such a status.

Driven by the desire of the leading anti-light pollution body, namely The International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), areas around the globe were duly designated International Dark Sky Places (IDSP). 

The initiative, which commenced in 2001, was to encourage communities to preserve and protect the world's dark places by using education as the main tool, plus offering alternative lighting means. The preservation of the night sky through minimising light pollution not only gives us spectacular, unhindered views of the night sky, but is essential for the nocturnal health of wildlife, and humankind's own well-being.

Wales boasts three IDSP's which includes two of only 18 International Dark Sky Reserves worldwide - geographically the largest categorisation anywhere across the globe. It would appear therefore that Wales is well-positioned to take on such a challenge as potentially becoming a Dark Sky Nation. 

Whilst Dark Sky Community status is recognised by the IDA, Dark Sky Discovery sites are only recognised within the UK. There are other parts of Wales along with Presteigne with applications in the pipeline. These include the Gower, Llyn Peninsula, Dee Valley, and Pembrokeshire.

One man whose involvement in reclaiming the skies across Wales is Dark Sky Wales, (DSW), Manager, Allan Trow: "Making Wales a Dark Sky Nation is a challenge. 

"At present, there is no actual Dark Sky Nation designation," he said. 

Dark Sky Wales, which educates and runs training programs around astronomy and space, added: "DSW were working with the IDA at the end of 2019/2020 before lockdown hit to develop the designation. 

"During 2020/20211 DSW completed an all Wales Sky Quality Meter study to analyse the sky quality from the ground and the IDA were mightily impressed by the quality of Wales' skies" 

"It's also about being passionate about our Welsh skies," added Trow. "I want to protect the night sky for everyone and have made a significant effort over the last decade to realize that vision. 

"So far DSW alone have managed to bring nearly 25,000 people in the dark skies of Wales over the last decade"

From a tourism and visitor perspective, the potential of having a Dark Sky Nation would be a considerable plus, but Trow added words of caution: "Certain areas require significant work. 

Governing such a designation as a Dark Sky Nation could prove problematic for the IDA. However, with support from politicians, some kind of formal agreement could be made. 

"It will take an enormous effort and require all parts of Wales including the National Parks to work collaboratively and not act in a parochial manner."

The first area to be given International Dark Sky Reserve status in Wales was the Brecon Beacons National Park in 2013, and at the time, was only the fifth in the world. The park stretches some 64 kilometres from Abergavenny to Llandeilo across the eastern flank of Wales. Along with the Elan Valley which followed, Eryri National Park became the third. 

Aside the reserves, Wales also has 30 Dark Sky Discovery Sites, smaller versions of the larger reserves. In total, nearly 18% of Wales' skies are certified dark, more than any other country in the world. 

In order to realise a Dark Sky Nation, it seems evident that we firstly need to protect what we've already seemingly secured from the running threat of light pollution, but of all the nation's in the world, Wales leads the way and would perhaps make a very good case one day for being accredited with such an accolade.