Introduction to South Central Area Statement

© Crown copyright (2019) Wales

These Area Statements summarise discussions from the last couple of years. We are continuing engagement on Area Statements and are adapting our plans for future events and workshops due to the coronavirus pandemic. Please use the feedback boxes on each Area Statement page to find out more.

Most of the car parks and trails in our woodlands and nature reserves are open.

For updates on what’s open, see our page on visiting our sites during the coronavirus pandemic.

About this Area


We are the most densely populated of all the seven areas encompassing Bridgend, the Vale of Glamorgan, Merthyr Tydfil and Rhondda Cynon Taff, as well as Cardiff, Wales’ capital city.

It is an area that also includes the moorland fringes of the Brecon Beacons National Park, the wild dramatic uplands high above the distinctive south Wales valleys, and the gentle lowlands of the Vale of Glamorgan. Almost a third of our coastline is classified as ‘Heritage Coast’. No less than six entries in the Register of Historic Landscapes, set up to aid the protection and conservation of important and significant landscapes across Wales, can be found in South Central Wales.

As a result, it’s perhaps not surprising that our Area Statement is dominated by a desire to bridge the urban and the natural environments.

South Central Wales is a part of the world that has experienced huge change over the past 250 years. The industrial revolution transformed what had been a rural landscape into an industrial mecca with strong, proud communities, built around abundant natural resources, with Cardiff becoming at one point the busiest port on the planet.

However, that industrial growth sometimes came at a cost, not only to the natural environment but also, by 21st century standards, to people’s health.

Today, the traditional heavy industries that put South Wales on the map have largely disappeared. Our air is perceived as being cleaner. Fish inhabit rivers which, not so many years ago, ran black. Plenty of good work has already been done to improve the environment. There is still a long way to go, but the natural assets that once supported the area’s industrial legacy now present a fantastic opportunity for a well-being revolution.

With that in mind, the South Central Wales Area Statement – which consists of five key themes – sets out to address the legacies of the past along with the challenges and opportunities of the future, exploring ways we can work together to protect, value and embrace the natural environment while also putting it at the heart of the decision-making process, in line with the Welsh Government’s Natural Resources Policy of 2017.

South Central Area Statement themes:

It’s worth noting that the first two themes – Building resilient ecosystems and Connecting people with nature – represent the cornerstones of the Area Statement, underpinning our entire approach to addressing the challenges that we, and our natural environment, now face, as illustrated by this infographic:


Infographic displaying how the themes in South Central Area statement connect with the framework for sustainable management of natural resources and the main issues and challenges it comes with.

See Andy’s blog on Improving natural resource management in South Central Wales for more information on our approach.

Maps of the area

Please note that our maps are not accessible for people using screen readers and other assistive technology. If you need this information in an accessible format, please contact us.

Broad habitats - South Central Wales (PDF)

  • enclosed farmland 
  • marine
  • mountains
  • moorland
  • heath
  • open water
  • wetlands floodplains
  • semi-natural grassland
  • urban
  • woodlands

Protected areas - South Central Wales (PDF)

  • Local Nature Reserves
  • National Nature Reserves
  • Sites of Special Scientific Interest
  • Wetlands of International Importance
  • Special Protection Areas
  • Special Areas of Conservation
  • National Park

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