Ynys Enlli, or Bardsey Island, in north Wales, has received International Dark Sky Sanctuary (IDSS) certification from the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), making it the first site in Europe to achieve certification under this category.
International Dark Sky Sanctuaries are the most remote and often darkest places in the world whose conservation state is most fragile. The International Dark Sky Places Program was founded in 2001 as a non-regulatory and voluntary program to encourage communities, parks and protected areas worldwide to preserve and protect dark sites through effective lighting policies, environmentally responsible outdoor lighting and public education. Ynys Enlli has now joined just 16 other Sanctuary sites worldwide.
There’s no doubt that achieving this prestigious status for Ynys Enlli will raise the profile of the island as a unique place in Wales and amongst the best in the world to appreciate the night sky.Sian Stacey, Chair of the Bardsey Island Trust
A four-year program using the latest technology was undertaken as part of the application to monitor the quality of the night sky on the island to show that it is sufficiently dark to qualify for the designation. The IDA also required a lighting management plan and photographic evidence for this certification.
Having secured IDSS status, the Bardsey Island Trust aims to continue protecting the dark skies seen from Ynys Enlli by raising awareness of this unique location in Wales and promoting the importance of the dark skies locally and nationally.
Known as ‘the island of 20,000 saints’ due to the Celtic and Christian monasteries established there since the 6th Century, the population of Ynys Enlli has fluctuated over the centuries. Evidence suggests that it was inhabited from as early as the Bronze age. Today, it is home to a small community of residents who work the land and fish from the island. There is also a Bird and Field Observatory and ten Grade 2-listed cottages for visitors who come to escape modern life during the holiday season.
Living here, I am always in awe of the island’s beauty – and the night sky is very much a part of that.Mari Huws, Warden on Ynys Enlli
“Having secured the certification, we look forward to welcoming visitors here over the coming months and years and sharing with them our unique story. We knew we lived in a special place, this new status confirms this, with IDSS putting Enlli firmly on the global stage. In a world that’s increasingly being polluted, it’s a privilege to be able to work towards protecting something that is pristine for future generations”, said Mari Huws, one of the Wardens on Ynys Enlli who has been part of the certification process.
The island is located two miles off the tip of the Llŷn Peninsula, its location and geographical features making it one of the darkest places in the UK – with the mountain on the island serving as an effective barrier, limiting light from the mainland. The closest significant light pollution comes from Dublin, over 70 miles (112 km) across the Irish Sea.
When used indiscriminately, artificial light can disrupt ecosystems, impact human health, waste money and energy, contribute to climate change, and block our view and connection to the universe. Ynys Enlli now joins more than 200 Places that have demonstrated robust community support for dark sky advocacy and strive to protect the night from light pollution.