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Mapping Tranquillity in Hertfordshire

Tranquillity Map of Hertfordshire 2007 Tranquillity Map of Hertfordshire 2007

In 2007 CPRE commissioned researchers to create a highly detailed new approach to defining tranquillity. By using these findings to create a national tranquillity map, it is possible to assess the likelihood of finding tranquillity in any given locality.

First, the researchers used a nationwide survey to test what tranquillity means to people and the different factors which make up ‘tranquillity’.

What tranquillity is – the top 10 survey responses
1. Seeing a natural landscape
2. Hearing birdsong
3. Hearing peace and quiet
4. Seeing natural looking woodland
5. Seeing the stars at night
6. Seeing streams
7. Seeing the sea
8. Hearing natural sounds
9. Hearing wildlife
10. Hearing running water

What tranquillity is not – the top 10 survey responses
1. Hearing constant noise from cars, lorries and/or motorbikes
2. Seeing lots of people
3. Seeing urban development
4. Seeing overhead light pollution
5. Hearing lots of people
6. Seeing low flying aircraft
7. Hearing low flying aircraft
8. Seeing power lines
9. Seeing towns and cities
10. Seeing roads

Then, using a Geographical Information Systems (GIS) model, they associated the survey information with a range of national datasets and took account of topography to create a map showing how likely each locality was to make people feel tranquil.

The tranquillity map is made up of many layers of information based on what people say adds to and detracts from tranquillity, weighted according to how important those factors are and taking into account the country’s topography. If you could peel away the layers, you would see maps which show the positive or negative impact on tranquillity of:

- a natural landscape, including woodland
- rivers, streams, lakes and the sea
- birds and other wildlife
- wide open spaces
- cars, motorbikes, trains and aircraft – and roads and railways
- light pollution
- towns, cities and villages
- large numbers of people
- pylons, power lines, masts and wind turbines.

No two squares the same
Each 500m by 500m square of England has been given a tranquillity score, based on 44 different factors which add to or detract from people’s feelings of tranquillity. These scores have been colour coded – darkest green for those places most likely to make people feel tranquil, brightest red for those least likely. But squares that are the same colour and have the same score may differ markedly in the different ‘components’ of tranquillity – both positive and negative – which determine their overall score.

A national view
This map can only indicate the likelihood of tranquillity – and sometimes a place which doesn’t seem to have a high score can be very valuable in practice. Of course, the deepest green areas are places where we are most likely to experience tranquillity, but in a heavily built-up area, a nearby spot of ‘medium’ tranquillity will be highly valuable to people – and in need of protection.

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