Johanna Korndorfer, Dark Skies Project Officer at Friends of the Lake District, is passionate about achieving Dark Skies accreditation. We sat down with her to chat about the issues and what the project means to her.

Hi Johanna, could you tell us what interests you the most about Dark Skies?

I think it’s really important to be able to see the stars. It humbles us and makes us think about our relationship to the universe and to our own planet, which is a tiny part of this incomprehensible vastness.

Hopefully, it will help us reflect on our urgent need to take better care of it for the sake of ourselves and all the other remaining species at the mercy of our activities.

What questions do people ask you the most about the Dark Skies project?

People are really keen to know what they can do to support the Dark Skies campaign! My answer is to let their councils and the Lake District National Park know that they think preserving the dark skies of Cumbria is important. That way it gets into local plans and we can create a dark skies reserve for our special county.

What is the one change you’d like to see everyone making to help combat light pollution?

It would be great if everyone could make sure their outdoor lights are shielded and facing downwards rather than spilling upward. It’s a simple change, but a start and can make a real difference.

What’s the biggest change you have made personally since starting the project?

The biggest change I’ve made personally is to become aware of the huge impact light pollution has on nocturnal animals. It’s so disruptive to their ability to function well in the natural environment and has been a significant factor in species decline. I am so intrigued by moths - their variety and importance to ecological functioning.

What do you think people need to be more aware of about light pollution?

Lighting technology has become more complex with the advent of LEDs. Unfortunately, they are put on the market with no environmental impact assessments done on them. For example, the shade of white created by LEDS is measured in Kelvins. Below 3000 Kelvins, the light produced is warm white. Above 3000 Kelvins and you get that horrible white-blue light. It’s unnecessarily harsh, creates a glare that is bad for our eyes, makes us look ghoulish, and is proving to be a disaster for nocturnal wildlife. Basically, don’t buy LEDs above 3000 Kelvins – there’s absolutely no good reason for them!

What would be the biggest benefit of achieving Dark Skies accreditation in Cumbria?

It will help people appreciate the fantastic rural landscapes of Cumbria we have even more. We are only now beginning to realise how important they are to the planet’s biology.

To find out more about the Friends of The Lake District Dark Skies Appeal, check out the other tabs on this page.


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